Aggressive cat behavior is not something that any pet owner should have to put up with. It can be a hazard to you, your guests, other pets, and any small children in your home—and it is also a stressor for your cat. The experts at Germantown Vet can help you with some tips to handle aggressive cats.
Do you need help with an aggressive cat? Click the button in the sidebar or give us a call at 240-252-7467 to schedule an appointment with one of our vets.
Understanding Your Cat’s Body Language
The first thing you should understand when dealing with an aggressive cat is their body language. Your pet should give you many physical indicators that are meant to communicate how they’re feeling (whether it is an appropriate response or not).
Offensive Body Language
When your cat is on the offensive, the ASPCA says to look for:
- A stiff, straight-legged upright stance
- Stiffened rear legs, with the rear end raised and the back sloped downward toward the head
- Stiff tail, lowered or held straight down toward the ground
- Direct stare
- Upright ears with the backs rotated slightly forward
- Hair raised down back and on the tail
- Constricted pupils
- Directly facing opponent, possibly advancing
- May be growling, howling, or yowling
Defensive Body Language
The ASPCA notes that defensive body language is:
- Head tucked in
- Tail curved around the body and tucked in
- Eyes wide open with pupils partially or fully dilated
- Ears flattened sideways or backward on the head
- Hair raised/hackles up
- Whiskers may be retracted (if anxious)
- Whiskers may pan out and forward (if fearful)
- Turned sideways to opponent, not straight on
- Open-mouthed hissing or spitting
- May deliver quick strikes with front paws, claws out
Identifying the Cause of the Aggressive Behavior
Once you’ve identified whether your cat is portraying offensive or defensive behavior, your next step is to identify what is causing the aggressive behavior in the first place. There are some instances where it is justifiable that your cat is feel aggressive, such as if the cat is being threatened or antagonized by family members or other pets. However, there are many instances where a cat will exhibit aggressive behavior that is just unacceptable.
Some of the most common causes of aggressive cat behavior are:
Often times, aggressive behavior in cats is caused by other pets—particularly when a new pet is introduced into the home. However, there’s a difference between a little sibling bickering and an actual problem. If your cat is consistently exhibiting aggressive behavior or getting into fights with other pets in your home, you’re putting all of your animals at risk of injury. Give us a call to learn more about behavioral treatments.
This is one of the most dangerous types of aggression because it occurs when your cat is angry at something that he or she can’t get to—such as an animal outside the window. This can lead to completely unprovoked attacks on family members that are very frightening or damaging. Your cat can stay agitated and angry for 30 minutes or more, and it’s best to give them their space during this time because they can be very unpredictable. Keep an eye on the warning signs of aggression.
Territorial behavior is very common in cats—especially when other animals are in the home. Cats can perceive their territory to be the entire house or just a small section of it, but either way, you want to work to make sure these territorial instincts don’t lead to injuries in your home.
What to Do with an Aggressive Cat
If you are experiencing an issue with an aggressive cat, one of the best things you can do is discuss the issue with a trained veterinarian. At Germantown Vet, we have years of experience dealing with all types of cats—from pokey and playful to irritable and aggressive. Our team can help you cope with your aggressive cat and work on positive behaviors.
Schedule your appointment today! Contact us online or by phone at 240-252-7467.