Treatment & Care

How to Care for an Aggressive Cat

Cats have a great capacity to be loving and dedicated companion animals. Unfortunately, some cats develop behavioral problems and exhibit aggressive behavior. The good news is that there is hope for any feline companion. Consider these tips to manage your cat’s aggressive behavior.

Examine the Cause of Your Cat’s Bad Behaviors

If your cat is misbehaving, they may simply be acting out because of an internal or external problem they’re facing. Consider whether the following common causes of aggression in cats may apply to your feline companion:

  • Discomfort – Sometimes cats will act aggressively if they’re in pain. Since they can’t exactly give you verbal cues about an illness or injury, they may act out in the only way they know to protect themselves.
  • Lack of awareness – Some cats simply don’t understand when certain types of play are inappropriate. They may bite and scratch when playing with litter mates, then not understand why they can’t also bite and scratch your hand.
  • Feeling threatened – Cats who feel like they’re being threatened can quickly become aggressive. It’s only natural for a cat to want to defend themselves or something that they perceive as theirs.

These are just a few of the common causes of aggression in cats. Call your vet if a cat who was previously well-behaved starts acting out. If you get to the root of the problem early on, you may be able to find an easy solution.

Strive to Eliminate Danger

As soon as you identify the cat’s bad behavior, make sure your feline companion’s actions can’t hurt others. If you think your cat may act aggressively towards children, keep your feline companion in a separate area of your home. Similarly, if guests come over, put the cat in a separate room or in a closed-off area of the home.

If your cat acts out towards you, make sure you aren’t vulnerable to scratching or biting. Don’t let a cat with biting problems have access to your bare arms, legs, fingers, or toes. Also, don’t allow a cat to chew on your jeans, or they may have a hard time knowing that they can’t treat your leg the same way.

Provide Plenty of Toys

Kittens and older cats alike need to play. Offer your feline companion plenty of cat toys to help them get out their aggression on inanimate objects. According to the Humane Society of the United States, cats typically prefer toys that are flickable, light, and small. The toys may be shaped like mice, fish, pom-poms, or other objects that are sure to get and keep a cat’s attention.

If you notice that your cat isn’t responding to one type of toy, try another. You may get involved in playtime, too. Your cat may love it when you use a laser toy with a red light for a game of chase. Be careful to never shine the laser beam in your cat’s eyes. Also, at the end of the game, be sure to give your cat a real toy so they can win the game.

Offer Your Cat Plenty of Scratching Surfaces

Scratching is simply a part of a cat’s normal behavior. Cats need to scratch for a wide variety of reasons. It helps them burn excess energy, remove dead husks from their claws, stretch their bodies, and enjoy a variety of other benefits. Unfortunately, if your cat doesn’t have their scratching habits under control, they can hurt people, your furniture, and even walls and cabinets.

Declawing is never the answer for even the most aggressive scratcher. As reported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many alternatives exist. Cats typically start scratching when they are around 8 weeks old. That’s a great time to teach them to use scratching posts and adjust to having their nails trimmed as needed.

Make sure your cat has plenty of scratching posts and other scratching toys. That way, your cat can engage in this behavior without causing harm to anyone or anything in your home. You can even get adhesive scratching pads for your sofa to protect furniture. Put horizontal and vertical scratching posts where your cat can easily access them as part of their daily routine.

Build an Outdoor Enclosure for Your Cat

Have you heard of the trendy home addition called a catio? The term catio is a play on the word patio. It’s simply an outdoor enclosure. This enclosure empowers your cat to reap the rewards of playing in the great outdoors without being exposed to its dangers. It also gives your cat more options for enriching play where they can burn energy and potentially become less aggressive.

Finally, reach out to your veterinarian if your cat’s bad behavior persists. Contact 1st Pet Veterinary Centers for help with all aspects of caring for your feline companion. From preventative dental care to 24-hour emergency services, we provide a wide range of services to support your cat’s health and treat any illness or injury.