Cats are generally affectionate animals and excellent life companions. However, it is not uncommon for the cat to suddenly abandon its docility for aggressive behaviour, attacking with bites or scratches. The aggressiveness may be directed to the masters, to the persons in general or to other cats. Moreover, it can be triggered by several causes, among which the game, the fear, the defence of the territory, the prolonged physical contact. It is useful to remember that the aggressive behaviour of the cat, although linked to its nature as a predator and hunter, must never be neglected. An aggressive cat can become dangerous for us and for those around us.
What should I do if I am an aggressive cat?
Playing aggressiveness is easily recognizable: the cat assumes the same postures as when it is hunting for prey (squatting position, lowered ears that move back and forth, tail that moves from one side to the other, front legs that “embrace” our hands, arms or feet while it is biting). The kitty attacks when we least expect it, and its scratches or bites usually do not cause any injury.
The aggressiveness of the game can be appeased by offering the animal different accessories on which to vent and meet its needs for movement. It is important not to give the cat our hands and feet as games: they would only help to push it to bite or scratch us. It is better to use appropriate toys and discourage their attacks, for example with a spray of water.
Territorial or defensive aggression can be controlled by giving the kitten food, games and attention in the presence of strangers. However, it can be difficult to manage and may require the intervention of the vet, which will also be useful in cases where aggressive behavior is caused by diseases (such as anger) or the use of certain drugs.
According to some, prolonged physical contact aggression may be due to a state of stress in the cat or a form of dominance. These are the cases in which the cat, which until a short time before gladly accepted our caresses, suddenly bites or scratches us. Although these attacks are sudden, the cat often and willingly shows signs of intolerance to prolonged cuddles: it is agitated, it dimens its tail, moves its ears, looks for our hand or turns towards us.
In these situations the physical punishments are not necessary, on the contrary, they can be counterproductive: the cat may become even more aggressive or associate the moment of the pampering to a punishment.
It is then advisable, in the case in which we feel signs of intolerance, to stop immediately caressing the animal or to get it used to receiving the caresses offering it some small rewards of food, so that it can associate the cuddles to more appreciated and “tasty” moments.
The vet, or expert in cat behaviour, remains the person to turn to for a solution to the aggressiveness of our four-legged friend.