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Aggression in a cat: where it comes from and how to calm an aggressive cat?

Aggression in a cat

Where does it come from aggression in a cat?

One of the most common behavioral problems cat owners face is aggression.

Aggressive behavior can apply to both other animals - members of the "domestic herd", and to humans.

So it is a behavioral disorder that can be very dangerous and painful for owners.

What are the types of aggression? How to fight aggression in cats? Are there any medications for aggressive cats?

I answer these questions in the article below, I encourage you to read the entire article.

  • What is aggression in a cat?
  • How to recognize if you are dealing with aggression?
    • Territorial aggression
    • Male aggression
    • Defensive aggression
    • Aggression displaced
    • Aggression in play
  • What factors contribute to the emergence of aggression?
    • Upbringing and the period of socialization
    • Genetic factors
    • Individual factors
    • sex
    • Age
  • How to calm an aggressive cat?
    • Territorial aggression
    • Aggression out of fear
    • Aggression from pain, disease
    • Aggression after visiting the vet
    • Aggression towards the child
  • Drugs and preparations for aggressive cats
  • Advice on cat aggression

What is aggression in a cat?

Aggression in a cat - types

Aggression is generally speaking the negative behavior of one living being towards another, not necessarily seeking to harm.

We can divide the aggressions into active aggression and passive aggression.

Active aggression - active is a direct attack.

This type of aggression can be characterized by behaviors such as:

  • raising the back - threatening attitude,
  • hiss,
  • snarl,
  • paws attack with extended claws,
  • biting.
You must know that cats, as very intelligent creatures, they often plan their attack.

They observe their victim's plan of the day, then patiently wait for their victim when the victim is not even expecting an attack.

Attacks can be systematic and bring the other cat to a state in which it lives under constant stress, and adopts an attitude of complete withdrawal from everyday life, which may result in many complications.

Passive aggression it is one in which the cat does not attack its victim directly.

If we wanted to transfer this concept to human language, then passive, passive aggression could be compared to psychological abuse.

The aggressor cat only stares at its victim, preventing it, for example, from. approaching the bowl with food, with their own body, obstruct access to places or objects important for their victim.

Because cat keepers don't usually notice the behaviors I describe, this type of aggression is very often neglected.

This is very disadvantageous, especially when it comes to the victim's psyche. If the aggression is aimed at another animal, it can have long-term effects.

It has been noticed that such animals suffer similarly to persecuted people: they run away, hide, become nervous, try to be invisible.

As the owner of a bullied pet, you must also be aware that emotional problems can be associated with real health problems.

Holding urine for too long or not allowing water to drink for too long can also lead to the development of numerous diseases.

Stressed cats often have problems with:

  • cystitis,
  • the deposition of bladder stones,
  • kidney stones.

Neurised animals often lick their hair, leading to the formation of open wounds after some time.

This activity can become a habit and is very difficult to get rid of.

As you can see, aggression is not a trivial thing to ignore

You will learn how to recognize it later in this article.

How to recognize if you are dealing with aggression?

What are the symptoms of aggression in a cat?

First of all, you need to know that some of the aggressive behaviors are not entirely dictated by your kitten's bad intentions, but by his innate instincts.

It is very difficult to get rid of such behavior.

Due to the cause of aggression in cats, we can distinguish:

  • territorial aggression caused by the presence of another animal, a human
  • male aggression,
  • defensive aggression - out of pain or fear,
  • displaced aggression,
  • aggression in play.

Territorial aggression

Cats defend their territory

As a cat handler, you need to be aware that although he is your sweetest pet, he is still a wild hunter at heart.

It is this primal instinct that tells your kittens to defend their territory.

And what can we understand by the term cat's territory?

Cats consider "their zone" not only the room in which they live, but also the whole house and garden.

For the cat, this is land belonging only to him, and any stranger is treated as an intruder who wants to destroy private property.

It is the cats who decide who can enter their area.

Therefore, do not be surprised if your purr reacts aggressively to your favorite aunt who visits you once every 2 weeks.

If you are the happy owner of several cats, they can create private zones in your home.

For one, the kingdom is the kitchen, for the other, the bedroom, and the third is for the bathroom.

Keep this in mind when placing litter boxes and bowls with food and water in different places in your home. The problem arises when one cat violates the privacy of another.

It is also worth paying attention to this problem in breeding.

He is often dependent on the female oestrus cycle.

During the pre-heat period, cats persistently try to chase their rivals away.

In some cases, the so-called. oestrus synchronization - then they experience these difficult days together.

Cats showing territorial aggression at first they threaten their opponent with hissing, tensing and puffing up. Then they chase the intruder away.

Territorial aggression can be directed towards other animals. It can also occur as aggression in a cat towards humans.

In light characters, the chase ceases when the other cat leaves the area he considers his own - his favorite shelf, lair, place on the scratching post.

In such cases, it is relatively easy to help cats.

The prognosis is worse when the cat shows up attacks of territorial aggression considers everything as property and does not tolerate the presence of another animal or human at all.

These are relatively rare cases, but they do happen.

With these cats, the attack continues as soon as the intruder is removed, but continues.

The attacked animal is chased until it is caught and taught a lesson - attack with teeth and claws.

Such behavior should not be left unresponsive, as it may result in serious injuries.

Male aggression

This type of aggression is mainly characterized by uncastrated males.

Their territorial instinct is very marked.

The male cats also defend themselves females and food.

While in the case of other types of aggression, treatment is difficult and requires a lot of patience, this type of aggression is very easy to remove.

All you need to do is castration to stop the kitten's hormones from provoking aggressive behavior.

Defensive aggression

Cats that feel pain may be more aggressive

This type of aggression characterizes kittens that fall out buoy be too they feel pain.

The type of behavior that is exhibited by a cat leaning against the wall when it no longer sees the possibility of escaping and, in its opinion, is fighting for its life.

It is an answer like "all or nothing ".

This means that aggression in the cat's opinion it is the last resort.

So this is not the first answer - at first the cat runs away, then if it sees that there is no way out, it hisses and scares the opponent, and if that doesn't work, it starts to fight with all its strength and puts absolutely all energy into it.

At this stage, the cat is no longer able to consciously control the situation or judge how much of its involvement is needed to avert the danger.

The cat cannot even notice that the danger has passed.

The cat at this stage is very dangerous and it does not matter if the caregiver's reassuring voice is nearby.

You should not calm him down, because his fear often intensifies - it is best to leave him alone so that he returns to balance and real assessment of the threat.

Cats often target this type of aggression to children.

A newly arrived, small inhabitant of the house first acts on the territorial instinct - he takes the cat's space, then makes noise, and when he grows up a bit, he screams, pulls and causes pain.

Therefore, if you decide to have a cat near young children, always keep an eye on the crowd. Observe the toddler, his and the cat's behavior so that you can intervene at the right moment.

Defensive aggression very often it is too sick cats, or visiting a veterinary clinic.

I know from experience that the right approach is very important in such cases. Therefore, if you are with your cat at the vet, follow his instructions carefully.

In difficult situations, when it is necessary to immobilize the animal, the doctor may decide to pharmacologically anesthetize the cat.

In the attack phase, he may hurt himself, the owner, or the doctor.

Other reasons for inducing aggressive behavior in cats are:

  • loud, unfamiliar sounds, e.g .:
    • hair dryer,
    • vacuum cleaner,
  • strangers at home,
  • even simple care treatments that require, for example, immobilization (eg. giving a tablet, cleaning ears or cutting nails).

So let's get to know your cat's character and fear factors.

Knowing your pet's "strengths and weaknesses" is key to determining what to do to exclude, or at least seriously reduce, situations that cause fear.

As I mentioned, cats sick, or those that they experience severe pain also can be aggressive.

They do not let you touch the place that hurts - eg. the paw which the spike has stuck in, which makes diagnostic tests very difficult.

Often the problem of defensive aggression concerns accident cats.

Therefore, if you found a cat after a collision with a car - carefully cover it with a blanket and transport it to a veterinarian.

Do not try to calm him down at all costs, then you may end up biting him.

A special type of aggression out of fear is aggression towards the unrecognized.

It is a set of aggressive behaviors towards a member of a well-known, and sometimes even liked, but for some reason unrecognizable.

I often observe her after returning from the vet, for example after castration, after returning from a show, or from a foreign farm after mating.

This is not a serious type of aggression in cats - it generally ends in hissing, general disorientation and dislike, but most often there are no active attacks, and the state lasts for several days.

Aggression displaced

If you are a cat guardian, you have probably noticed more than once that a cat arguing with its older friend attacks a younger one.

This is what displaced aggression is all about.

Mixed aggression can also apply to people or other four-legged creatures.

A cat angry with you may attack your child or your dog.

Importantly, in this case, the cat often does not show that it is angry - it attacks immediately, without the initial phase, i.e. the threatening phase.

This type of aggression is very difficult to treat.

In order to remove it, the original problem must be removed, and this requires careful observation of your purring friend.

Aggression in play

Why is the cat aggressive when playing? Play aggression mainly affects cats too early weaned.

Not taught what is fun and what is not fun anymore, they do not know what caution is.

Therefore, when playing, they can bite or scratch quite severely.

The kitten doesn't do it out of anger - he just doesn't know it's not entirely acceptable behavior. In this case, proper training should eliminate the problem.

The same applies to bored cats. By aggressive behavior, the cat tries to get your attention.

That's why it's so important everyday, to say the least half an hour of fun with our pet.

What factors contribute to the emergence of aggression?

What cats are the most aggressive?

It is currently believed that purebred cats i.e. British if Persians they are more aggressive than their European relatives.

I do not fully agree with this statement.

In my opinion, it is not the breed that affects the kitten's behavior, but:

  • education,
  • period of socialization,
  • genetic factors,
  • individual factors,
  • sex,
  • age.

Upbringing and the period of socialization

If your kitten stayed abandoned by his mother, he has not dealt with other cats, he may be wary of his new friend.

Therefore, if you dream of several cats in the house, it is best to get your kitten used to the presence of another cat from the beginning of his stay at home.

You need to know that most of a kitten's nervous system develops in the first weeks of its life, so the period is crucial 7-9 weeks. life.

It is then important to provide the cat with a large number of different stimuli.

Caged cats that have no contact with humans have a greater predisposition to be aggressors.

Cats also form an "opinion" about various stimuli during this time. So let's associate unpleasant events such as a visit to the vet's vet with pleasant stimuli - fun, delicacy.

Then the next visit will not be so terrible for the kitten.

You should also not forget about getting your kitten used to caressing, cuddling or holding it on your lap.

Kittens who were not taught to be close to humans in their youth will have a problem establishing a deep bond with them.

Genetic factors

Aggression, like other pet character traits, can be hereditary.

Scientists have found that if a mother of kittens is aggressive, her offspring have a greater predisposition to show aggression.

Firstly, it depends on genes, and secondly, on generating negative feelings in the kitten's psyche:

when people approach my mother, she is very scared, it means that I should be scared too.

Such behavior it's very hard to get rid of.

Aggressive female cats should be eliminated from breeding.

Individual factors

It often happens that we do not know why cats are aggressive.

It happens that cats from one litter, raised by the same people, have completely different characters.

This may be influenced by the cat's personal experiences, but in my opinion the reasons for some aggressive behaviors simply cannot be explained.


As I mentioned earlier, aggression is more common in:

  • uncastrated males,
  • kitten in heat,
  • kitten that just gave birth to kittens.

To prevent this kind of negative behavior, I recommend neutering or sterilizing cats.


Aggression is mostly concerned elderly cats.

This has several aspects.

First, they are usually sick (defensive aggression).

Secondly, they have problems with observing their surroundings, due to a reduced sense of sight or hearing.

On top of all this, there are nervous changes - comparable to human senile dementia.

The older cat attacks the message "let us all leave him alone ".

In order to help such a cat, it is necessary to diagnose any diseases that have affected your purr and start their treatment.

It is also worth supporting it with food or supplements for older pets, or with agents supporting the blood supply to the brain and organs.

How to calm an aggressive cat?

How to calm an aggressive cat?

To react appropriately, you must first recognize the type of aggression.

Territorial aggression

Imagine that you bring a new animal into your home - a cat, dog, or a new inhabitant appears in your apartment.

Your old purr starts to act as if he is infested with the powers of hell: he hisses, flushes, strains, finally attacks, using his claws and teeth.

In that case, you may assume that you are dealing with territorial aggression.

At the moment when you plan to adopt a new kitten, slowly get your faithful little cat used to the new situation.

How to do it?

First, keep the cats in separate rooms, then you can replace the blankets they sleep on - so that they know their smells.

The next step is to get the old resident used to his new friend.

Territorial Aggression - How to Deal With It?

To do this, lock the new kitten in the carrier and bring your old cat to the room.

Start this acclimation to an hour or a few hours a day.

Watch how cats behave.

Only when you are sure that the pet is safe, let him go, but have new friends under control so that you can react at any time.

The same applies to introducing a new dog or human into the cat's environment.

To bribe the purr a bit, you can associate the presence of an intruder with a positive stimulus - eating or having fun.

Aggression out of fear

In this case, preventing aggression is connected with overcoming fear by the cat, and as I know from my own experience it is not so easy.

I will discuss 2 situations here:

  1. Fear of loud noises.
  2. Fear of visiting the veterinarian.

Aggression out of fear of loud noises

To overcome the cat's fear of loud noises, e.g. a vacuum cleaner or a razor (especially for long-haired cats), you should gradually get your cat used to these terrible stimuli.

For this, as in taming dogs with the sounds of fireworks, you can to record a sound that is scary for a cat.

The recorded soundtrack, play it daily, softly at first, then louder and louder.

You can combine it with a pleasant feeling, e.g. playing with the cat at the time of the recording or giving him a treat.

Aggression for fear of visiting the vet

As for visiting the vet, getting used to them it is worth starting at an early age of the pet.

It is worth starting with the introductory visits during which the cat will be hugged and stroked by the doctor 8 weeks life, i.e. the moment when a young kitten goes to a new home.

It is also worth distracting the cat after each unpleasant visit with a treat or a toy - still served in the office.

This is very important because when you give the treat after returning from the visit, the cat will associate pleasant feelings with the home, not the veterinarian.

In my practice with kittens and adult cats, I use the principle of rewarding - after each visit, the cat or dog receives a treat in my office.

I also often take the little ones in my hands, touch their paws and belly so that they know in the future that nothing terrible will happen when I cut his nails or when I examine him before vaccination.

However, you must be aware that in some cases it will be necessary to immobilize an aggressive cat.

Blankets, towels in which we wrap cats, or just cover their heads, or injection bags can be used for this.

In some cases, an application becomes necessary a sedative.

Aggression from pain, disease

The easiest way to reduce this type of aggression remove its cause.

So if your cat is clearly unable to touch its paw, belly, ear or any other part of its body, take it to your veterinarian.

You also need to know that some diseases can be aggressive. Belong to them:

  • diabetes,
  • overactive thyroid gland,
  • febrile illness,
  • neurological diseases,
  • tumors,
  • epilepsy,
  • rabies,

Hence, if your kitten - previously a gentle couch potato, has changed into an aggressive dominant, you should also see a doctor with him - it may be a symptom of an illness.

Aggression after visiting the vet

If, after visiting the vet, cats react aggressively to a kitten that has just returned from the doctor, do not try to force him into the group.

Let him and his friends get used to new, strange smells.

After some time, they will disappear from the cat's hair and will be recognized as his own again.

The same is true when your cat cannot be touched, bites or scratches after visiting the vet.

Do not try to hug him by force, soothe him, give him a moment to calm down.

Close the room in which he is staying - quiet and dark places soothe the shattered nerves of cats.

Aggression towards the child

If a baby arrives in your home in the near future, prepare your cat by then.

Do not organize a children's room in the room where your cat has stayed so far.

In the house, separate a place where the child will not have access - so that the kitten can hide.

A few weeks before the planned cause, you may start giving your cat sedative pills such as Kalm Aid if Zylkene.

It is also worth using cats pheromones in the form of contact inserts.

It is also worth getting your cat accustomed to the smell of a new guest - by providing the cat with a blanket on which the child slept, his sock, gloves or other clothes.

By giving him a baby scent, it is also worth rewarding the kitten, e.g. a treat.

Drugs and preparations for aggressive cats

If you've removed the stimulus that caused your cat's aggression from the environment, or tried to get used to it, but it didn't work, you might consider giving your cat mild sedatives, using herbs and other natural ingredients, such as:

  • Zylkene,
  • Kalm Aid,
  • For Kalm,
  • Kalm Vet.

Cat pheromones in the form of collars, diffusers or contact inserts are also a good idea.

In very difficult situations, doctors sometimes prescribe stronger sedatives or psychotropic drugs, e.g. fluoxetine.

It is not a long-term use, only a helper, during problem identification and further behavioral therapy.

Advice on cat aggression

  • Identify the problem - observe the situations in which the cat is aggressive.
  • Contact a behaviorist or veterinarian - it will help you rule out possible diseases.
  • Never punish your cat for aggressive behavior - remember: violence breeds violence, even more so with cats.
  • Don't change your cat's environment abruptly.
  • Alternatively, give him cat pheromones or mild sedatives.
  • Don't lose patience - it takes time to teach your cat to be aggressive.

You have an aggressive cat and you don't know how to tame it? Or maybe you want to learn more about behavioral therapy?

Post a comment under the article - I will answer all questions as soon as possible.

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