Most cats only lash out from time to time, restraining most of their devilry to evil glances and non-violent anti-social behaviour. But if your cat is consistently violent or aggressive, you need to tame it before someone gets hurt.
Understanding the aggressive cat
Nobody who’s spent any amount of time with cats can claim to have remained unscratched or unbitten. But some cats are more bitey than others. And some cats may become more aggressive over time, or suddenly aggressive with no obvious explanation.
The only reason humans domesticated cats in the first place was to kill mice. Now these killers are in our homes and we accept their sometimes violent ways because they look so cute. Most of the time it just about works. But sometimes a cat gets a complex that drives it to attack on the slightest perceived provocation. This is not on.
Stroking an aggressive cat
One of the main problems is that cats were not ‘designed’ to be stroked. A kitten may expect to be groomed by its (feline) mother, but anything extra is essentially a deal you’ve worked out with your pet over the months and years. In other words, stroking it is a privilege.
The cat’s natural instinct, when finding itself in the vulnerable position of being sprawled out with a giant fleshy hand descending on it, is to defend itself. But most cats suppress this instinct most of the time. Because this is literally ‘the hand that feeds them.’
One solution to preventing aggression in cats is to get them used to fussing from an early age. But if it’s too late for that, you need to try again ‘from scratch’ (excuse the pun). Make fuss sessions short. Treat kitty like you just reached first base. Be quiet and calm, and stop stroking before your cat becomes aggressive. Signs of impending aggression include twitching, ear-pinning, or tension in the body.
It’s a bit different with an aggressive kitten. Fighting and biting is a part of how kittens play and learn. A cat mother will generally interrupt her kittens before things get out of hand. But if, as a human, you encourage this play because it seems like fun, the kitten is likely to grow up into four kilograms of pure brute.
The trick is to have toys ready to play with instead. You should never use your hands, feet, or face as playthings or as sources of aggression. (If you tap the kitten’s nose to discipline it, the cat will just learn to fear and defend itself from your hands).
Aggressive cats on the warpath
It’s one thing to get your finger bit when you’re poking your cat for fun. But it’s quite another when your cat leaps out on you for no reason and attempts to pull your flesh inside-out. But some cats are into this kind of behaviour. Once again: it’s just not on!
So why do they do it? Often, the unprovoked aggressive cat is merely letting off pent-up energy. The lazy beast sits indoors watching birds and rival cats outside, slowly building a sense of boiling rage. When something moves within pouncing distance, it’s the perfect chance for moggy to pull the trigger. Chances are it’ll be you, your kid, or your poor unsuspecting dog.
While a bored dog will take out his frustration on your furniture, a bored cat will take it out on living creatures. So it’s important to make sure that your cat has enough stimulation and exercise to prevent it from becoming that mewing timebomb. Give him games, play with him, make sure he gets plenty of outdoors-time if it isn’t a housecat.
Cat attacks can be dangerous, especially for old people and children. If your cat scratches or bites a human, you need to flush the wound with running water and get medical attention. Especially if there’s any soreness, fever, pain, or headaches afterwards.
Aggressive cat on cat aggression
Maybe your cat leaves humans alone but has a problem with other cats in the home or neighbourhood. If your cat keeps getting in fights with the neighbour’s cats, try to make an arrangement with the owner. Each cat should be kept indoors and allowed out at different times.
An aggressive cat can be very dangerous, particularly if it is carrying an infection. And curing its aggression may be difficult or impossible. If you are concerned that your cat is aggressive, you should take it to a vet to get a professional opinion and tailored advice on what to do next.