Aggressive Cat Behavior

Aggressive Cats





There will be times that your kitty may act aggressively. Aggressive cat behavior may result from various different environmental cues. These types of aggressive behaviors are explained below.

Territorial Aggression

It is the nature of cats to be very territorial. Depending on where your cat spends his time, his territory might be your house, your yard, or the whole block. Female cats can be just as territorial as male cats. The behavior that your cat might show in this type of aggressive cat behavior includes chasing and ambushing the intruder, as well as growling, hissing, and swatting when contact occurs. These types of problems can occur when you bring a new cat or kitten into your home, or when your cat encounters other neighborhood cats if he is allowed to go outside. Of my four cats I let one go outdoors from time to time. Though he is a neutered male, he is very territorial and becomes very aggressive towards cats (and dogs) when they invade his territory. Unfortunately he has had some pretty touch scrapes resulting in trips to the veterinarian. He is very sweet and gets along great with the rest of his indoors companions. It is common for a cat to be tolerant towards one cat in the family and aggressive towards another. This aggression is usually resolved through the establishment of a dominance-subordinate cat hierarchy.


Intermale Aggression

Male cats tend to fight with other male cats. This type of aggressive cat behavior normally occurs between unaltered males for sexual dominance over females. In a social group, males will fight for hierarchal dominance. This mostly consists of ritualized body posturing, staring, yowling, and hissing. Most attacks are avoided when one cat backs down and walks away. During a physical fight the attacker will jump forward biting the nape of the neck while the opponent falls down on his back attempting to bite and scratch the attackers belly with his hind legs. I have often seen cats play fight in this way, and it appears to get rather rough. The cats are usually not severely injured, but puncture wounds can occur which may become infected.

Defensive Aggression



This type of aggressive cat behavior occurs when a cat is attempting to protect herself from an attack that she cannot escape from. A cat will respond in this way if she is being punished from the owner, being attacked from another animal, or anytime the cat feels threatened or afraid. The cat will exhibit defensive postures during this time of stress. Defensive postures include crouching with the legs pulled in under the body, laying the ears back, tucking the tail, and raised fur on the body and tail. Approaching a cat while she is in this posture will likely lead to an attack.

Petting-induced Aggression

Many cat owners have had the pleasure of petting their cat, then all of a sudden, the cat bites their hand and runs way, often stopping to groom. This form of aggressive cat behavior is called petting-induced aggression. It is important to not use physical restraint or punishment as this often increases the stress and fear in the cat. It is better if you learn your cat’s limitations and respect them, you can do this by watching your pets reactions. I had a calico cat that exhibited this type of aggression. She would demand to be petted and after a couple of minutes she would have enough and scratch or bite my hand. Here are the warning signs of petting-induced aggression.

• The ears may go back

• The skin or tail may start to twitch

• The pupils may dilate

• There may be a low growl

• The claws may become unsheathed

• The body may stiffen

If you have a multi-cat home and you have cats fighting, do not allow for this to continue. Most likely the more that they fight the worse the problem is likely to become. I had this problem when I brought in a cat I call “The General” he is a neutered male that is an indoor/outdoor kitty. Of course, all my cats have been spayed and neutered, and doing this will calm them greatly. The General at times jumps on the other male cats, I am sure he has done this to establish his dominance. To stop a fight in progress, make a loud noise such as blowing a whistle, yelling, squirting the cats with water, or throwing something soft, such as a pillow, at them. This will stop them immediately. Do NOT punish the cats involved, these are cats, not dogs, punishment will only cause greater fear and aggression between the cats. Eventually, they will become buddies. One, will become the dominant cat, the top cat, they will learn to get along with each other, or learn to co-exist. Aggressive cat behavior can be resolved with love and patience.



Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.


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