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Aggression in cats can be an
upsetting problem for owners. They are dangerous to have in
a household because they pose a threat to owners, visitors
and other animals. When cats attack, they use their sharp
teeth and nails which harbors bacteria that often leads to a
dangerous, painful and/or fatal infection in their victim.
Feline aggression is expressed through various behaviors,
such as body language, facial expressions, vocalization or
physical attacks. There are many reasons why cats become
aggressive. The most common are: territorial aggression,
predatory aggression, pain-induced aggression, play
aggression, fear aggression, sexual aggression, and maternal
Cats are very territorial. They become aggressive when they
feel that their territory has been invaded by an intruder.
Territorial cats often express their frustrations through
hissing, swatting, chasing and attacking their “enemy”.
An instinctual trait that cats have is to hunt, chase and
kill prey. When hunting prey, cats are known as “silent
stalkers”. They crouch down low, slowly move towards their
target, then quickly lunge forward and attack their prey. In
a household, this behavior can pose a danger for smaller
pets such as mice, hamsters, rabbits, fish, etc.
This is a common behavior that cats exhibit when
experiencing pain. If a cat is touched in their painful
area, they may become aggressive towards the person or
This behavior is often displayed in young cats. Kittens have
a built-in drive to play rough which is part of their
development. Although this is a natural behavior, the kitten
must learn that it is unacceptable to grab, stalk, nip,
pounce on or bite a person or other animals. Play aggression
occurs when cats are not provided an adequate amount of
exercise or if there is a lack of stimulation within their
environment. If this behavior is not corrected as a kitten,
the cat may become more dangerous as an adult.
Most cats hide or run away when frightened. However, if they
are in their own special territory or cornered, they may
feel threatened and become aggressive. Common behaviors
expressed by fearful cats are hissing, swatting, growling,
scratching and biting. The safest thing for a person to do
when confronted with a fearful cat is to walk away. Give the
cat time to calm down before approaching it again.
This behavior occurs in cats during the mating process. The
male bites the female’s scruff in an aggressive manner in
order to prevent her from escaping. After mating, the female
often rolls on her side, swats, hisses, and attempts to bite
the male cat.
This form of aggression
results from the mother’s hormonal state during lactation.
Queens are very protective of their kittens and may become
aggressive if they feel their young are being threatened by
a person or animal. When this occurs, the safest thing you
can do is to stay away and give the mother her space.
Frequently hand feeding your female throughout her pregnancy
and after she gives birth, may help her feel more
comfortable with people approaching her kittens.
Cats are wonderful companions for people. However, there are
occasions when even the friendliest cat may become
aggressive. As a cat owner, it is important to learn what
your cat’s warning signs are in order to prevent yourself or
others from getting hurt.