Cats can be aggressive in a variety of situations such as during play, while being petted or when scared. Help protect yourself and your feline with these tips for dealing with cat aggression.
See a veterinarian
Before you can manage your aggressive cat, consult your veterinarian to ensure there is no medical reason for their behavior. Aggression can stem from diseases such as hyperthyroidism, osteoarthritis, dental disease or central nervous system problems. In addition, medication and diet can be contributing factors to aggression.
Create a safe space
If your furry pal is showing signs of aggression, they may be easily overstimulated and, therefore, don’t want to socialize with people. Give your cat some space for them to learn to trust you and others. This includes avoiding eye contact and providing a clear escape route for your cat when entering the room. Also, make sure to not force playtime if your feline isn’t enjoying it.
Along with creating a distance between you and your tabby, you may also want to give them more opportunities to distance themselves. Provide hiding spots and perches within your home to give your cat a complex environment.
Engage in routine playtime
If cats don’t have the opportunity to play, or if pet parents encourage their cats to chase and attack people’s hands and feet, this can contribute to play aggression. Try to spend at least 20 minutes with your feline, twice a day, using a variety of toys (so they don't get bored) to build a strong relationship.
You can start by simply being in the room, lying on the floor with eyes closed and treats around you so you are not viewed as a threat. Use toys like a cat wand to add space so your cat is not directly next to your body. If scratched or bit, wait until your cat calms down before resuming play.
Use calming products
Consider using diffusers and sprays to reduce tension. Many of these products use pheromones that mimic a natural cat odor to calm your cat down. The reassuring smell makes them feel safe, often resulting in a less anxious cat which can mean a less aggressive feline. Try using Nature's Miracle Just For Cats No Stress Calming Spray or NaturVet Quiet Moments Spray.
Interrupt and modify behavior
When you notice signs that your cat is going to be aggressive, try distracting them. You can whistle or clap, throw a toy in their direction or spray a water gun to get their attention. It is important to not touch or pick up your furry friend when you notice beginning signs of hostility.
You can also work to modify their behavior by acknowledging their triggers. For instance, if your cat tends to act aggressively when touched, you can offer treats or food when you try to pet or pick them up. However, when they signal to stop petting or any other unwanted action, it is best to stop. Be sure to reward desired behavior with treats or by reacting in a friendly manner.