Does your cat frequently bite or scratch people or other pets? This means it may be showing signs of aggression. Cat aggression can be dangerous and should not be tolerated. This does not mean you should punish your cat. On the contrary, you should diagnose the underlying cause of your cat's aggression and get it properly treated. Below is a list of 9 common causes of aggressive behavior in your cat:
- Pain Aggression - if your home environment remains the same, but your cat suddenly becomes aggressive, it may be because of some sudden sickness. For example, arthritis, dental problems or some other painful condition could cause your cat to become aggressive.
- Play Aggression - your cat likes to play rough, biting and scratching you. Or it likes to stalk you or ambush you. In many cases, this is because your cat was taken away from its mother too soon, so it did not learn to moderate its aggression when playing. Another reason could be that you rough-house with your cat too much, hence conditioning it to be aggressive when playing.
- Fear Aggression - kitty hisses, bares her teeth, and crouches low with its tail and legs tucked under its body. Its ears are flat against its head, its pupils are dilated, and its fur stands on end. These are signs that your cat is afraid of something, and is preparing to protect itself.
- Predatory Aggression - your cat attacks your pet bird, or some other small animal like a mouse. This aggressiveness is actually your cat's natural heritage: to hunt prey. Unfortunately, since these are modern times, and we are discussing your pet cat rather than some farm cat, this predatory behavior is probably not desirable.
- Redirected Aggression - something seems to be provoking your cat, but when you approach it, it attacks you instead. Cats are no more logical than human beings. This is like your father becoming pissed off by something at work, then coming home and taking out his anger on you.
- Petting Aggression - just like kids, a little bit of attention is great, but too much will set them off. You could be happily petting or playing with kitty just moments ago, but it suddenly became aggressive.
- Status Aggression - your cat is trying to show you who's boss. The symptoms are usually tail swishing, flattened ears, dilated pupils, growling, and hissing.
- Territorial Aggression - you bring home a new cat or some other pet, and kitty chases or attacks it. Unneutered tomcats can be especially aggressive in defending their territory.
- Maternal Aggression - your cat just gave birth, and will not allow you to get near her kittens.
This is not a comprehensive list, but should cover most cases of aggression. Not all causes of cat aggression can be treated. Some, like redirected aggression or maternal aggression, require that you recognize it and adapt yourself to it. Others, like pain aggression, will disappear once you remove the cause of pain.