Why Your Cat May Be Acting Aggressive and How to Address It

Aggression is a threatening or a harmful behavior directed by a person or an animal towards another person or an animal. Typically, all wild animals show aggression signs to demonstrate superiority in their territories, especially when defending their offspring and when protecting themselves from attacks.

Cats show aggressive behaviors during attacks or when feeling pain. To stay on the safe side with aggressive cats or any pet for that matter, one needs to understand when the cat is aggressive.  Most pets communicate through body language; cats demonstrate their feelings through body expressions, carriage of certain body parts, like ears, whiskers, and tail. Understanding the basic postures and what everybody expression means helps the pet parent to notice the problem and deal with it more effectively while enjoying the company of these pets because they understand everybody language they show.

The greatest question every pet handler, especially those people with cats has is what exactly causes the aggression in their precious pets. Here we will learn exactly what causes cats aggression.

Before we get to what causes cats aggression, it’s important to understand that cats’ aggression falls into a number of categories. To understand what causes your cat to be aggressive, you need to first take a full and complete history of the cat's former location and what was happening to the cat before the aggressive behavior.

Here are the most common causes of aggression in cats. They include:

  1. Fear

If a cat perceives a threat that it cannot escape or feels locked up, it may show aggressive behavior towards its keeper. Fear in cats can be a learned behavior based on the life it led and where it was before keeping it in the house as a pet.  Fear in cats can be eliminated by play therapy. Playing often with your cat to give it a means or relieving fear and restores its confidence.   Additionally, if the fear is severe enough, the best thing is to leave the cat alone and provide it with a place of refuge and security until it calms down.

  1. Medical condition

Cats show aggressive behavior due to its current medical condition. In most cases, pain is the sole cause of sudden aggression in cats. Cats that show aggression due to pain include cats that are older and those who had a calm temperament. Some medical conditions that may trigger cats’ aggression due to pain include arthritis, trauma, infections, and dental disease. Cats with these medical conditions often think that they will be touched in the painful areas. In addition to pain, there are other medical conditions that may trigger cats’ aggression; they include cognitive decline, neurological problems and loss of normal sensory input. To resolve this condition, take the cat to a vet and have it medicated. 

  1. Hormones

Cats that are not neutered are more likely to show aggression signs. Male cats are the most affected by hormones, especially when they are in the company of other male cats in the presence of an on-heat female cat.  If this happens in your presence, it’s advisable to stay away from the cats because you might become the target of their aggression.  The solution to this problem is to spay or neuter the male cats. 

  1. Frustration

Frustration is another cause of cats’ aggression. Locked up cats get aggressive when they see other cats intruding their territories and they cannot reach them. If a cat sees another cat walking into his/her territory, he/she may show signs of aggression due to the frustration of not being in a position to reach the intruding cat. At that point, the cat may react aggressively to the nearby person or animal. To overcome the aggression in such a cat, you need to leave the cat for some time to cool down. Also, separate the cat from other animals till it cools down. Finally, dealing with this type of aggressive behavior may also depend on the very cause of the turf war.

  1. Unprovoked aggression

This is the aggression that cats my show without any reason. In most cases, this type of aggression results from medical conditions. This type of aggression is rare but can show in some cats, especially homeless and frustrated cats. To cure this condition in cats, you only need to give it time to adjust to the new environment and play with it regularly to show that you care for its present condition and that you are ready to change its previous life.   

  1. Stress

Cats that live in a stressful environment are prone to becoming aggressive. Cats brain is more like human brains and gets affected by chronic anxiety from past experience like human violence and the hustle of surviving in the streets.  To keep your cat from becoming aggressive due to stress, it’s recommendable that you visit a vet for a short course of anti-anxiety medication. Also, you can make your cat stress free through homeopathic remedies or flower essences. These remedies can help make your cat less reactive to stress.

  1. Petting-induced aggression

Cats that live with cat parents that don’t always pay attention to their signals until it’s too late may trigger their aggressive behavior. Usually, cats show petting-induced aggression by suddenly lashing out and either bite or scratch a person. This condition in cats often results when one pet beyond the cat’s tolerance or when one’s petting causes over-stimulation. It can happen when you often stroke the cat in body areas that they are not comfortable with. To avoid this type of aggressive behavior in cats, ensure you don’t give the cat petting-induced aggression, pay attention to the cat’s body expressions and learn the cat’s tolerance level so that you keep it in a comfortable environment.

  1. Trauma

To some people, cats having post-traumatic stress can be the wieldiest dream. However, as mentioned earlier, cats' brains work like the human brain and actively respond to past violence and stress from previous living conditions. To resolve trauma in cats, the pet parent should visit a vet and get the cat medicated. A professional vet will administer anti-anxiety medication to treat the condition.

  1. Biochemical imbalances

Though biochemical imbalance rarely affects cats, some cats may suffer from the same. Like humans, some cats suffer from biochemical imbalances and to treat it, the cat should be medicated with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

  1. Maternal aggression

A cat that has kittens may display aggression if she feels that her kittens are in danger. Sometimes when the mother feels that her kittens are in danger from humans and other animals sharing the same environment, she may show aggression toward them. To avoid such a situation, the cat parent should ensure the mother cat has a safe and secure place so she doesn’t feel that her kittens are in danger.  Limiting the interaction between humans and other animals and the cat’s family should be done in the first two weeks of the kittens’ life.

  1. Pod-cat aggression

This type of aggression affects cats that have been out of the house, whether to the streets or to the veterinarian.  When cats have been out of the house to other destinations may show aggression towards the cat parent when they get to come to the house. Declawing is the solution that comes to the mind of many people with cats suffering from such a condition but this is not a solution; cats bite is more painful than a scratch. To solve this problem, you can try flower essences; this help cats to assess problem situations in a more rational manner, by dissipating the cloud of terror that cats can generate in a nanosecond. In extreme cases, it’s advisable to take the cat to a vet for medication.

The bottom line

There are many causes of cats’ aggression, that’s why you should have your cat examined by a vet. Also, being aware of the early signals about what makes the cat aggressive, gives you the chance to resolve the situation before it escalates to violence. Although it’s almost impossible to control the causes of anxiety and stress in cats, owners of these pets can give them space to calm down without injuring anyone.  It’s my hope that this content was helpful.    

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