Last updated: January 17, 2020
Our cats, those furry balls of love (when they feel like it!) come equipped with an arsenal of in-built weaponry which they can use to inflict extreme injuries on others, should they ever choose to do so. Luckily, most of us will never have to deal with an aggressive cat as raw aggression in domesticated cats is more the exception than the norm. Nevertheless, knowing how to deal with an aggressive cat is indeed an important step in ensuring that both your cat, and the humans or other animals it is sharing its life with remain safe.
When it comes to assessing the aggression of our pets, we sometimes tend to think that cats present less danger than dogs for example, perhaps because of a cat’s relatively small size compared to the size of dogs for example. But it is important to remember that a fight between two cats can sometimes result in severe injuries, if not death. Learning how to deal with an aggressive cat is part of an important set of pet health tips and as such should give you additional tools that will make your relationship with your pet an even healthier one
Aggression in cats: the warning signs and why you should pay attention to a cat body language.
Animals as a whole are aggressive for a variety of reasons and in a variety of circumstances. They snarl, bark, hiss and exhibit body language aimed as a warning to others that they are ready to attack should they feel further threatened. It is this customized and natural body language that we must try to understand.
Cats have a variety of body postures and facial expressions that act as a tale-tale signal that not all is well. The savvy cat owner will of course always know never to put a cat in a situation where he or she doesn’t feel threatened, but sometimes, circumstances are such that in spite of the cat owner’s best efforts, something outside of their control may trigger an aggressive reaction. Learning how to interpret the cat body language is important and may require special attention since body language in cats may be a whole lot subtler than in dogs.
Be that as it may, the position and expressive behaviors of a cat’s body parts, like the ears, the tail and the whiskers can be real a giveaway.
Before we list some of these signs, it is important to remember never to attempt to interact physically (touch) an angry cat.
There are typically two kinds of aggressive posturing in cats. The first type is a defensive aggression where the cat will more likely be crouching on the floor, head tucked in, making himself look smaller. The second type is an offensive aggression during which a cat will attempt to make herself look bigger and more intimidating.
Crouched up on the floor. A defensive cat is reacting to a threat and as such adopt a wait and see type of behavior, head tucked in, curled up in a ball, tailed tucked in close, ears flattened, pupils dilated. This type of behavior may see the cat turn sideways to the opponent as opposed to a heads-on confrontation. Hissing and spitting may occur, as well as quick strikes of the cat’s front paws as a warning signal for the opponent to back down. If your cat exhibits some or all of these behavior, it is important to stay calm, keep your distance and try to soothe her by speaking softly to her. Allow her to feel less threatened, and as she begins to feel more relaxed and comfortable let her come to you if she wants to, or leave the room of her own accord.
A more serious stage since the cat is ready to lash out and attack. A stiff and straight legged upright stance with stiffened rear legs. Back and tail arched, tongue curled, hissing even yowling, directly facing an opponent and possibly moving towards him, ears uprights, tail stiff and lowered. This is a cat you need to get out of the way from.
Whatever state of aggression your cat is in, it is important to determine what drove him there. What triggered his anger, when, why and where?
In some cases, aggression in a cat may be health related and certain conditions sometimes do trigger an aggressive reaction. Conditions such as hyperthyroidism, toxoplasmosis, abscesses, epilepsy, dental disease, arthritis, trauma, rabies and sensory decline or cognitive dysfunction in older cats. If you suspect that your cat may suffer from anyone of these conditions, a visit to your local vet will prove extremely valuable in helping tackle the medical source of the discomfort and eventually eliminate the method with which your cat is dealing with his or her condition.
Aggression between cats
Un-neutered males who come into contact with one another can quickly become aggressive and launch into each other in a show of dominance. These types of cats usually live out doors and roam in a state of semi wildness.
Household cats who become aggressive towards each other often exhibit more subtle and complex behavior. More difficult to detect, cats will usually fall into two categories. Those who want to dominate the others and those who would prefer not to fight. In both these cases, look for the same pattern of behaviors as explained above.
Petting induced aggression
Some cats live for being petted while others merely tolerate affection of a physical kind. Even for those cats who love to be hugged, there sometime come a point when too much is too much and they sometimes lash out. It is believed that repeated physical contact such as excessive stroking may become uncomfortable, and even irritating, even for the most docile of cats. Watch for a twitching or flipping tail, the flattening of his or her ears, restlessness etc. as signs that you are being asked to stop.
As final thoughts, it is important to remember that cats, like most animals have their own method of expressing themselves. Some of these methods can be accurately observed and acted upon when needs be.
Like most circumstances, fights can be avoided if the protagonists learn to properly assess the warning signs that each side sends. By learning a cat’s language, understanding its meaning, savvy pet owners can quickly prevent an aggressive behavior before it has the time to formulate itself as a thought inside the cat’s mind.
Kathie Lukas is a freelance writer. She’s a passionate pet lover her topic areas mostly cover pet health and pet grooming and loves to travel and has never ending love for food. She has completed her graduation in animal sciences from the Kansas state University. You can find her on twitter @iamkathilukas.
Hi! I’m a certified cat lover and an unapologetic writer! That’s why I created SweetieKitty! Born in Connecticut, one sunny day of April, during the most interesting decade of past century! Nowadays I live in South Carolina, with my three tomcats! I’d love to read your comments on my article!