If your kitty is aggressively attacking you or other pets in your home, he may not have been properly socialized as a kitten, which causes behavioral problems as an adult. To prevent an attack from your feisty feline, watch for warning signs of aggression from him.
Why Is My Kitty Aggressive?
Little kitties learn proper social behaviors at a young age -- between 2 and 7 weeks of age, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If, during this sensitive period, your kitten is separated from his mom or littermates, he won't be able to learn proper feline behaviors, which can lead to behavioral problems such as aggression as he grows into an adult. Without nurturing and discipline from his mother or the company of his siblings, he may develop inappropriate behaviors like offensive aggression toward and bullying of people, according to PetPlace.com. Exposure to people during a kitten's early weeks is also important, as it teaches the little guy not to fear humans later in life, A fearful nature can make a cat antisocial and potentially aggressive toward humans.
Aggressive Body Language
When spending time with your kitty and interacting with him, it's important to be aware of any signs of annoyance and aggression he may give so you can avoid an attack. Body language is one of the main ways kitties communicate with each other. Your furry feline may be giving you physical signs of an aggressive attack well before one actually comes, unaware that you may not understand them. The main indicators of aggression in our feline friends are the movements of the ears and tail, according to the Catster website. If you see your furry friend's ears starting to move from an upright position backward to a flattened one, this is a sign of annoyance and of potential aggression. A kitty whose tail is madly swishing about or facing downward when he walks toward you may also be aggressive.
An aggressive kitty who is ready to attack you may vocalize beforehand. Some such vocalizations include growling low, hissing and spitting, and loudly yowling. These vocal signs may increase just before a physical attack. If you hear any of these signs, it's time to leave your kitty alone to calm down before you try to interact with him. These vocal signals can precede an attack in which your kitty may bite you or swipe at you with his claws bared.
Other Physical Signs
In addition to subtle body language and aggressive vocalizations, keep an eye peeled for some other physical changes prior to aggression by your feline friend. An angry, aggressive kitty's eyes dilate; his body will become rigid, and his hair will puff up, giving him a larger appearance. The hair on the tail rises so it looks like the tail is twice its usual size. An attacking cat will bare his teeth in a threatening manner, usually while vocalizing.
If you see any combination of these signs, your kitty is readying for an attack of some kind. To best deal with this, leave the room your furry buddy is in and allow him to calm down. Avoid punishing him, because this will only reinforce the aggression -- as will giving him a treat to calm him: He'll think the treat is a reward for his aggressive behavior.
Dealing With Aggression
If your previously easygoing fur ball has suddenly turned into a feisty and aggressive cat and nothing has changed in his environment, a medical issue could be to blame. Illnesses like arthritis, neurological disease and hormonal imbalances can cause aggressive behavior, according to the RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase. Bring your furry friend to the vet for an exam to rule out this possibility or to treat any illness or injury your kitty may be dealing with. Your vet can advise you in dealing with behavioral aggression issues or even prescribe psychological medications in some cases. In addition, she can recommend a certified animal behaviorist for you and your furry friend to work with.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Aggression in Cats
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Behavior Problems: Aggression
- petMD: Aggression in Cats (Overview)
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Socializing Your Kitten
- PetPlace.com: Orphaned Cats -- Their Mental and Social Needs
- Catster: Cat Body Language
- RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase: My Cat Is Being Aggressive Towards Me -- What Should I Do?
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.