What is it?
Have you ever been playing with
your cat and suddenly been attacked? Has
your cat been content to sit on your lap one moment only to turn around and slap you the next? This is NOT unusual for cats. People typically don't tell their veterinarians about these cat attacks until the attacks draw blood.
Why is it?
are many different reasons why cats
show aggression. One common cause is
that people do not realize they are
teaching adult cat behavior when
they allow harmless, cute, tiny
kittens to play bite and scratch
them during the kitten's critical
socialization period which is before
10 to 14 weeks of age.
common reason is that people do not
teach the kitten to accept and trust
gentle human handling before 14
weeks of age.
If you see signs of agitation like tail flicking, ears back, eyes dilated, or hissing...
Step away from the cat! You are in danger of being attacked.
How is it?
typically show defensive aggression
with a single, quick bite followed
by a quick retreat. Usually the cat
shows body posture warnings,
sometimes with hissing or batting
with a paw before aggressing.
show offensive aggression without
warnings by biting and scratching
repeatedly until the victim is
no longer available such as behind a
Aggression can also be associated
with petting. Some cats may solicit
attention but then turn and bite
after just a few minutes of petting.
Theories on why this occurs include
some kind of impulse control problem
or some kind of misdirected sexual
your cat puts more pressure than is acceptable
with a play bite, stop play and all social interaction for at least 30 seconds.
What to do if you cat attacks during
your cat's body language shows any signs of aggression, do not extend your hands unless
your cat voluntarily approaches you.
2. Determine the threshold of
your cat's anxiety prior to the attacks. Make sure you stop petting your cat well before that anxiety threshold is reached.
3. If your
cat shows no signs of anxiety or aggression, offer your cat a tasty food treat as a reward and increase petting sessions in small increments. The goal is for
your cat to eventually learn to tolerate longer petting sessions in anticipation of a food reward.
People accidentally teach cats to be
aggressive by allowing and
encouraging kittens to chase and
bite fingers and toes.
What to do if you
cat attacks during
Provide ample opportunities for
your cat to play with toys and for you to be involved. If you see your cat becoming agitated or frenzied, interrupt play
with a time out. If needed, make a loud noise like a clap or throw a
magazine away from the cat as a distraction. If possible, do not let your cat associate you with the noise.
Try to identify what "triggers" these attacks
so that you can learn to avoid those triggers. As much as possible, redirect
your cat's aggression away from you, to chasing cat toys.
Your cat may see you as a
moving target and great big toy. If possible, keep a cat toy ot treats handy to toss
away from you if you think your cat is going to attack you. Your cat may be willing to chase a crunched up piece of paper thrown away from you. Some cats even retrieve.
What not to do?
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.