If you've ever tried to pick up an angry cat, then you know the only rewards waiting for you are pain and claw marks. Not all male cats engage in violent behavior on a regular basis, but most of them will display signs of aggression when the occasion warrants it.
Pay attention to your cat's posture and demeanor, especially when he is around strangers or other cats. Cats rely on appearance to judge potential threats and to make themselves look more dangerous. You've probably seen your kitty get a little prickly when the hair along his spine lifts to a perpendicular angle from his skin. This involuntary reaction makes the cat seem bigger to his enemies. Angry cats also tend to lash their tail and may "hunker down" with belly against the ground in a defensive position. Your cat may also squint his eyes and clench his facial muscles to expose his teeth to show he means business.
Cats are sensitive to both auditory and visual stimuli, so it should be no surprise that they are vocal about expressing their bad mood. Hissing is an obvious indicator of feline aggression and it's pretty hard to mistake it for a happy sound. Cats have a wide range of vocal habits and preferences, so judging aggression by the tone of a meow and yelp depends on the individual. Aggressive male cats tend to make sharp or guttural sounds when they are upset, according to The Humane Society of the United States.
It's hard to confuse aggressive behavior for anything else when your cats are participating in a last-man-standing style brawl. It is also a little scary to watch your pet transform into a whirlwind of claws and fangs that starts and ends in an instant. Cats may also display some signs of aggression during play-fighting, although this rarely turns into a bloodbath. Male cats often try to pin one another to the ground or force the other to surrender by flipping him over on to his back in a struggle for dominance.
If you want to reduce aggressive behavior in your male cat, then you need to deal with the root of the problem. Some cats seem like they were born mean, but their antisocial behavior is usually due to a history of abuse, frequent altercations with violent cats or exposure to fear-causing stimuli. If your cat is afraid of strangers, then it's probably better for you to help him deal with it than it is to never invite friends to your place again. You can help him create a positive association with a negative experience by giving him a tasty treat during the experience. Getting your male cat fixed should also be among the first steps you take towards reducing his aggressive behavior, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.