Sudden Aggressive Behavior in Cats

Why is Kitty so mad?
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It can throw you for a loop when your otherwise sweet, affectionate, kneading and purring furry friend turns on you in a Tazmanian devil impersonation. But little kitties are animals, after all, and they can be aggressive for various reasons.

The Predator

Cats are predators, even your little house cat who gets her meals served to her in her very own bowl like clockwork every day. Because this type of kitty doesn’t get to hunt for her own food, she might have pent up predatory needs. Maybe she lies in wait under the bed for you to walk by. As soon as your foot comes near her hiding place, she’ll pounce. She just killed your foot. That might have been satisfying for the kitty, but it probably didn’t feel so good on your end.

Something New

A socialized cat who is friendly and nice around you, family members and friends might not have been socialized to everything: dogs, for instance. If your nice kitty becomes a raging spitfire — clawing, biting, hissing and spitting — just because the harmless little bichon frise entered your home, your kitty doesn’t know dogs. Your cat might be terrified and will fight to protect her turf and you when this threat (albeit a puffball one) nears. You are also likely to witness this type of sudden aggression in mother cats who protect their litters from any sort of perceived threat.

Not Reading Signals

Cats give you signals, and if you aren’t picking up what your kitty’s putting down, you might pay the price. Say you’re absentmindedly stroking your cat while you’re on the phone or watching TV. Everything’s cool, except suddenly it isn’t. Your cat has just hissed and scratched you for no reason. Well, no reason that you can discern, anyway. Your kitty was really giving you silent signals to stop. A cat who enjoys petting typically arches her back so you’ll continue, but a cat who isn’t enjoying the petting anymore might give a slight meow, shrink from your touch, twitch her tail or put her ears back. If you ignore the subtle cues and continue the petting, you might be bitten or scratched.

Sick Kitty

If your cat is suddenly acting aggressively to you, take her to your veterinarian. She might have a medical condition that’s causing her to lash out. If the vet rules out a medical problem and you still can’t figure out what’s causing the aggression, seek the help of an animal behaviorist who can show you a behavior modification program. Your vet might be able to recommend one, or you can check with Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists.

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