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.. Cat aggression continued

Felines are solitary hunters, they instinctually rely on themselves & not their social group (excepting lions & sometimes Cheetahs).

Humans are troop animals that rely largely on teamwork, we can find it difficult to understand when cats don't cooperate or if they seem to go against the social grain. We have invited them into our world & it is our responsibility to help them if they do not understand, they are never at fault.

 

A cat must not be punished for behaving as comes naturally, they should instead be given a means to exorcise any frustrations in a more acceptable manner. Unwanted behaviour should only reap minor disappointments (e.g. by people walking away or ignoring it) Positive behaviour should receive pleasurable results to reinforce it.

 

Types of Cat Aggression

Health problems

If a cat feels un-well or is in pain its behaviour may deteriorate. Often they will just look miserable and avoid activity, but they may re-direct their discomfort to the environment around them & or towards their giant companions. If your cat has recently begun to show these signs - seek veterinary advice

Over stroked aggression

Sometimes a happy, purring pet can turn on the hand that is stroking it. This can simply be because the cat has had enough attention but the message has not translated. The big friendly giant upon who's warm lap the cat likes to sleep, just hasn't got the message and keeps on rubbing at fur with big clumsy hands. Cats have a body language, and there are distinct signs forewarning of this sort of aggression - learn to recognise the signs and stop stroking in advance. If your cat really gives no warning measure length of time that stroking remains tolerable, and be sure always to stop well before the point of irritation is hit.

Over stimulated aggression

An apparently ecstatic or just super relaxed feline, might become over stimulated and turn round to give their friendly giant a whack! Some cats can become lost in pleasure with attention. If they snap out of it & realise that they have been absent minded, they can suddenly feel very insecure & announce their return. (this is similar to when humans nearly drift off to sleep on public transport, they often wake up with a jump) Having been lost in daydream then suddenly seeing a large object (your hand) bearing down on them, they might lash out in surprise. Avoid over stroking a cat, simply stop while they are enjoying themselves.
If you want to calm an overactive/stimulated cat, maintain a calm environment. The use of scent can be invaluable and products such as "Feliway" diffusers are available from your vets. Especially engineered sounds can also greatly help, "Relax with cats" has been created with no sudden noises & gentle purring to soothe cats & humans alike.

Playful Aggression

It is easy to mistake a cats playfull game, for more aggressive behaviour. They will hunt, pounce on one another or our legs & play fight as comes naturally. They can get over stimulated however & inadvertently scratch and or give a nip (a harmless but perhaps uncomfortable bite). This is easy enough to avoid, once you recognise the beginnings of over excited body language, stop the play session. Walk away & end the fun if they get a little rough, this will be punishment enough. They will likely burn up any unspent energy, on a punch bag toy.

Never play with cats or kittens with your hands or fingers - always use a toy so they do not learn confusing mixed messages. Hands are not toys to sink claws into!

Fearful Aggression

A cat laying flat to the ground with its ears & possibly whiskers flattened back, eyes wide & tail tucked in to the body is trying to make itself inconspicuous in a last attempt to avoid any aggravation or injury. In short - it is scared but is likely to be prepared to defend itself against any perceived threat. If it is possible, remove the cause of the stress & leave the cat in peace to calm down. Don't try and stroke a fearful cat, it is likely to lash out at anything bearing down on it.

Redirected aggression

When something has upset a cat & s/he takes her frustration out on something close to paw. For ways of recognising this common form of aggression in cats & turning it to your advantage, see Redirected aggression

Territorial aggression

Usually the effects of this can be heard outside in streets and gardens. Often but not always, it is caused by entire tom cats intruding in the territories of others, trying to claim ground & looking for queens. This is also often the cause of soiling, as the cats will be putting up feline posters declaring their presence (usually near doorways or passages). see feline announcements for soiling and wetting problems.
Cats enjoy the hunt

Cats enjoy the hunt

Wide eyes, whiskers splayed & ears forward = ready for action

Wide eyes, whiskers splayed & ears forward = ready for action

Eyes relaxed, tail up or n shape = playful (if a little enthusiastic)

Eyes relaxed, tail up or n shape = playful (if a little enthusiastic)

Resist the urge to rub a sensitive tummy, unless you really know the cat

Resist the urge to rub a sensitive tummy, unless you really know the cat

Cowering, wide eyed, ears may be flat or listning out = fear, don't touch!

Cowering, wide eyed, ears may be flat or listning out = fear, don't touch!

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