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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Aggression Response

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Cat Aggression Prevention Tips

What is it?


Have you ever thought you cat attacked you for no reason? Believe it or not, your cat has a reason, you just don't know it, yet! 


Genetics. You cat may be exercising the genetic code to prowl, pounce and play. A good way to prevent cat attacks on people is to provide plenty of prey-play interactive games with your cat directly that attention and skills to toys.


Professional help.  If this problem persists after following the steps in this topic, consider making an appointment for a pet behavior case analysis by a veterinary behavior consultant. For more information on this service, call 1-800-372-3706.


Startle reflex.  If your cat tends to attack when startled, you can put a bell on the cats collar to alert you that the cat it near. Try to call to your cat when you enter the home to alert the cat of your arrival. Be sure to praise your cat, preferably on cat level, when your cat remains calm for greetings.

Avoid aggressive play and slapping games with your cat.  Do not allow your cat to nip or to place hard pressure in play or when mouthing your hands.


Starting out right

Pet selection. The best prevention for aggression begins with careful kitten or cat selection. Ideally, families rule out adopting kittens or cats that show tendencies to be excessively frisky and possibly aggressive. If you know the cat's parents were aggressive, consider choosing another well deserving cat or kitten with more friendly genetics on board.


Early socialization. Whenever possible, adopt a cat or kitten who was properly socialized as a kitten to people and other pets. The best age to socialize a kitten to people and other pets is from 3 to 7 weeks old.

Gentle handling. Ideally, kittens experience everything they will encounter later in life in ways that develop a confident, calm, loving, social, gentle personality. Frequent body massages and gentling exercises during these first two months of life help kittens learn to accept gentle human handling.

Gentle mouthing. Teach bite inhibition by giving your cat feedback on how much mouth pressure is allowed on your skin. Respond to any firm placement of the teeth on human skin with a loud cat yowling sound, freeze and withdraw all attention.


Any time your cat puts more pressure than is acceptable with a play bite, stop play and all social interaction for at least 30 seconds.


What not to do?


No scolding or physical punishment. Do not respond to aggression with any type of aggression as this will only reinforce the cat's perception of you as a threat and cause the cat's aggression to escalate.

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