how to deal with an aggressive cat

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Aggression is one of the most common and serious feline problems that give cat owners a hard time often when the cat has already advanced his aggression intensity.

An aggressive cat can be more dangerous than a dog despite the animal size difference.

So how to deal with an aggressive cat?




Body Language in Cats

It is recommended that every cat owner should try and understand their cat’s body language at least on a medium level.

Cats will always communicate by sound and body language. The cat’s sound includes meowing, yowling, hissing, and growling.

The body language, on the other hand, is shown by how the cat adjusts certain parts of his body, facial expression, and general body posture.

An aggressive cat will use a combination of sound and body language to pass his message of dissatisfaction before resorting to fighting or fleeing. 

You can hence see that it is important for a pet parent to know their cat’s body language since it is important to resolve your aggressive cat behavior problems.




8 Tips on How To Deal With an Aggressive Cat

To be sure that your cat is not being aggressive for medical and biological reasons, you need to visit a vet. There are some diseases including those affecting the central nervous system that may make your cat display aggression.

In this case, your vet will prescribe treatment for the disease and eventually handle the aggressive behavior. If this is not the case, you can try the following tips to stop a cat from being aggressive:

1. Just avoid the situations that you know will make your cat aggressive. If you have brought new pets into your house, it is very common for your cat to show aggression. In this instance, you need to take your time and get all your pets to play together to foster familiarization.

2. If you know that your cat has been hit by something, avoid touching or petting him. Just give him time for the pain to go down.

3. Do not give a treat to your cat when he is very aggressive. Instead, just wait until he has calmed down then give him a treat. This will inform the cat that you are not pleased with his aggressions and rather, calmness is rewarded.

4. Insert cat doors at strategic locations in your house. Your cat needs the freedom to move in and out of the house when at will.

Having a cat door will reduce the aggressive behavior caused by frustration and it will also reduce excessive meowing by your cat on the main door.

5. Always note the cats in your household that are aggressive to each other and separate them to prevent fighting. Ensure you have different resources (cat carriers, pet bowls, toys) for such cats.

To reduce the enmity between such cats, you can have a training session for both of them at the same time. Have them know each other’s capabilities and strengths which will, in turn, replace the hatred.

6. Ensure that your cat has a routine that he follows every day. This will help him to be cognizant of what is expected of him at a particular time.

7. Have plenty of playing time and training sessions with your cat. This should be well catered for in the routine and you need to ensure that it is followed.

8. Consult your vet if things are not working out well. Changing behavior in cats requires consistency and patience.

It is common for aggressive cats to persist with the behavior and in this instance, you need to reach out for further specialized training after consultations with your vet.




Conclusion

It is important to always observe and understand the body language of your cat. This helps in trying to know what your feline friend is trying to communicate to you.

Aggression can be well understood if cat owners spend much time with their cats and interpret their language.

Has your cat ever shown aggression toward you? Did you try the tips that are mentioned in this article?

Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading through my post.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi, We have a slightly different issue. Adopter a brother and sister cat 1.5 yrs old in 2019, followed by rescuing a kitten that rode to work in the grill of our car in 2020, followed by another kitten in 2021 that we saw as we moved from the old home. In 2022 I found a kitten in a 20 ft deep storm drain that was 3 weeks old and we rescued him followed by his sister I was feeding her nightly at our old home. She came to us as a 6-month-old kitten. Fast forward to April 2023. A friend at our old home was moving and had a momma and her 2 kittens born in his garage. She’s a story I fed there. We knew they would struggle to be 3 weeks old so we brought the mom and kittens home to just foster and then spay her and release her back to the old property with where a group of 15 I feed live. All have been spayed and neutered now. They thrived in our basement and were separate from our other 6 cats. After we found homes for the kittens together, we took Mom to the vet for her spay. They informed us she was sick. 2 yrs old and had lost all but 2 teeth and 1other they pulled was terribly infected. She had tape and heartworms also. After seeing how wonderful she was with her kittens over the 3 months they were here we decided we wanted to adopt her. She went from being sick and never being touched to loving petting and I play with her 2-3 times a day. My wife works in her office in the basement so she always got contact. We exchanged scents, put up a zipper screen on the door to Basement and a few of our cats go down and look around while she’s there. She doesn’t have a big issue with most but our older female is the one that will run at her puffed up and dancing sideways. Miss Patty will howl and hiss and hide. Other times Tabby will go down and sleep on a chair with no issues. Miss Patty has come up a few times and explored while the cats are outside playing in the yard. If Tabby is around she will run her back downstairs. We are not in any rush. We know it takes time. We will not give up on them tolerating each. We have fed each in view of each, played with them in front of each other, and everything else we can think of. Is there anything you can think of to help? We have cat diffusers plugged in also. I will pet one, Miss Patty likes hard cheek rubs then immediately I go to Tabby and put her. we have not been able to pick up Miss Patty yet so I have to play with Miss Patty and lure her out of the basement. Miss Patty lived with 15 cats in a garage for around 5 months during the winter before this so shes use to being around cats.

    • Hi Johnny, it seems that you’ve been doing things the right way and been patient which is great. As you can see the process can take longer with some cats and this is the case between Tabby & Patty. I would advise to keep on exchanging scents, feeding or giving treats close to each other, positive reinforcement whenever they are showing positive behavior when they are around each other, keep the interaction short and start increasing it slowly, offer some interaction time by playing with them while they are together if they are behaving well. Do not rush the process and hopefully you will find results soon.

  2. I have a 3 yo male cat brought from the shelter about 3 months ago. He is extremely snuggly, plays hard, cuddles hard. He is very very smart, and understands human faces, he watches them, wants to be REALLY close to them, and they are the targets of his love and… frustration.

    If he is mad at me or doesn’t get his way, he will swipe, claws out, at my face. It is not playful, I swear, he’s mad . For example, I put a harness on him today to get used to it bc I think he may want to go outside, left it on a few minutes. He came over, I took it off. He butted my forehead w his, was cute for a minute, got close, and then swatted my face- got very near to getting my eye.

    This is a deal breaker for me. I almost had an eye taken out by a cat as a kid. I can tolerate most things, even if he were swatting at some other part of my body, but not my face. Anything, seriously, anything except that. He’s done this a few times in the last 3 months and it’s unpredictable. It will come “out ofnowhere” in the sense that he doesn’t give me any warning signs to protect my face. Snuggly snuggly, bite nose, HARD and not let go. Fine, fine, swipe.
    This was after weeks of things going great. We snuggled on the couch all night together. He’s not otherwise aggressive, he either wants to play or snuggle. This is having the effect of me not trusting him, wary of him. I thought we’d gotten past this, but apparently not.

    I don’t want that kind of relationship w my cat. And that’s hard bc he wants to be close to my face ALL the time.

    Apparently I’m not supposed to punish him, but what do I do? (I don’t get that, though- he seems to be punishing ME for doing something he doesn’t like, he really wouldn’t understand the reverse? ) Even giving him a time out doesn’t seem to help bc he’s mad at me anyway.

    At first he was more mouthy and batty as a way of communicating but he’s learned not to do that w the displeasure/ ignore like you describe. But the attack as revenge seems to remain.

    We can’t just not ever make him upset and frustrated, bc he gets into everything- he eats all human food so we can’t leave anything out. He gets into the garbage and now he’s learned to open drawers. Our pantry has a swinging door, it’s only a matter of time. Mostly I find it funny, but if he gets mad bc we take stuff away or thwart him that’s a problem.

    I can’t live like this. Skin heals to normal. Eyes do not. Today 1 cm lower and I’d be in the ER.
    I was resigned to taking him back to the shelter. Gave it more time, relaxed, now this.
    I don’t see any way of changing this. It doesn’t matter if we have more weeks and months of fine if the worst just happens next year.
    Is there hope here? I don’t want to take him back but this won’t work as it is.

    • Hi Annie, I totally understand your frustration. A few things I would recommend to do is first to do a full examination with a vet and make sure that your cat is healthy and has no underlying health problems, a good vet would also be able to give you some advise to try and fix these behavioral problems.

      Do you give your cat enough playtime to let his energy out? Allow him to run after toys, catch them and play around because sometimes we make mistakes by not allowing our cats to catch toys which results in aggression and behavioral problems. Get him some smart interactive toys, puzzle feeders or food dispensing toys that would make him busy for hours for example.

      Have you ever used calming pheromones at your home to help calm him down? You can try these and ask your vet which one is best for him.

      If all these don’t work I would recommend consulting with a professional cat behaviorist to try and fix your issue. In the meantime, you need to stay safe and create boundaries by not allowing him to get too close to your face to protect yourself. You can start doing that by redirecting his attention towards a toy or something further away whenever he tries to get close to your face. I hope these help!

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