Imagine your cat is snarling at you, and his ears are flattened backwards, his eyes are dilated, and his teeth are exposed. His tail may be brisk and lashing, he may be growling, hissing or even spitting. These are classic signs of aggression in a cat. Learning and understanding what is causing the different signs of aggression in your cat will also help in discovering what can help soothe them.
For example, feeling trapped may trigger aggressive behavior in cats. Because they are frightened, cats that feel trapped will try to find an escape route. When they are unable to escape, they may resort to aggressive behavior. Behavioral problems and aggression can also be caused by underlying stress. Stress can be caused by many things, such as changes in the environment, unfamiliar visitors or situations, or new household members such as babies or pets. It is best to slowly introduce your cat to such stressors, or to separate your cat from the stressor altogether.
Sudden movements, sounds, and imaginary threats may also trigger fear aggression in cats. Timid cats can be big aggressors since the fear is especially real for them, even if the threat itself is not. Past experiences with fear, such as physical punishment from their owners, can also play a part in a cat's fear aggression. If physical punishment is used to train your cat, they will eventually begin to associate your presence with negative experiences. Physical punishment on your cat, or any cat, should never take place, as this may result in aggressive feline behavior.
When you see that aggression is starting, start to address it by immediately petting your cat; this helps let him know that he has nothing to fear. Petting helps to relax both the cat and you. Speak softly and gently; this will help ease its fears. If the cat has a hold of you with its teeth, gently stroke the tips of its paws and toenails until he releases. Never try to open the paws, as this will cause him pain. Not staying calm and responding with sudden movements and loud noises will only lead your cat to fear you more. Do not quickly pull away after the attack; instead, slowly move forward with the activity so that he will know that you are not there to hurt him.
Additionally, if a cat feels pain, this may lead to aggression. For example, because their skin is sensitive, cats may even experience pain from excessive petting. Some cats will feel threatened or over stimulated with over-petting. Some of this fear may stem from past socializing with people. In some instances, if you feel that the source of aggression is difficult to see or point out, it is possible that your cat is experiencing pain from elsewhere. Taking your cat to the vet and having an exam will help in knowing if he is truly in pain. Getting treatment for the pain will help both you and your cat.
There are medications and experts that are available to help in serious cases of cat aggression. Do not wait if you are unable to control the aggression. Contact an expert to discuss effective ways of dealing with aggression.
If the aggression is on a male cat, consider neutering as a corrective option. This may help with cat fights and injuries. Contact your veterinarian for more information on getting your cat neutered.
Caring for your cat and addressing unwanted behaviors before they worsen will take time and patience, but will ensure happiness for your cat and help solidify your human-animal bond.