You might be wondering whether aggression is an innate emotion in cats or is it just an occasional response to unfavorable situations. As a matter of fact, cats are very much related to some of the world’s cruelest and angriest cats living in the wild. With sharp claws and fiery eyes; they hold the reputation of the meanest little creatures on the planet and are yet very cute. Is putting a label on them about being naturally aggressive really justice, or should we perhaps study more about why cats sometimes act out aggressively? Read along to have a clear idea about cat aggression.
Feline Aggression: Symptoms
Cats are by nature predators, no doubt about that. And no predator will ever be able to endure in the wild deprived of some form or level of violence. Even though our pet cats have been trained for many millennia to act well at home, they still have that predatory gene lying in their body. It can sometimes prove to be extremely difficult to control them but a pet owner must be aware of all the different moods their kitty has.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers animal aggression as a ferocious or antagonistic behavior exhibited by animals chiefly to threaten or even control other pets or animals or sometimes even human beings. Rendering to the group, aggression in felines is quite a common factor. As a matter of fact, less than one-third of all felines that are living in shelters is due to the reason that they are very aggressive. This behavior is dangerous for other pets, any animal, or human parents as well.
How does one come to the conclusion that their cat is an aggressive creature? Some of the signs are mentioned below:
• Defensive postures on display
Defensive postures are displayed by cats in an attempt to make themselves look smaller. It also keeps the felines in a well-protective and safe manner. You may notice that your cat has started to crouch, pull back its ears, purr or make any other sounds, run away from you and won’t show any affection, pull back its hackles, swat on you, or even move its little head. The whiskers on their face may also be retracted; in an aggressive feline, whiskers are panned out as a way to maintain a gap from dangerous situations. If you give a closer look, you will find that its pupils are being dilated so it can examine most of its surroundings as it possibly can to measure the levels of danger. It is a simple way of telling you to move back a little or else it will start to defend itself.
• Offensive postures on display
At first, the pupils will begin to be constricted. This is due to the reason of the heightened stimulation in the sympathetic nervous system of the cat, activating the flight or fight response to situations. Regrettably, in aggressive kitties, it’s turned to the ‘fight’ mode mechanism as soon as it gets activated; it is almost never the ‘flight’ mode in them. The sudden hormonal rush of epinephrine or adrenaline affects the pupils of the eyes to get constricted so that they can keep their focus on their targets and concentrate. This is one true sign that shows prominently in an offensive cat.
The legs of the cat can stiffen up, particularly its rear legs, which makes the cat look taller than it is. This is often paired with its backside raised with the behind a little sloping in the direction of its head as if it is ready to jump. Cats hairs are also elevated to give it the look of a more threatening look to the viewer. Its earlobes may be pushed in the direction of the back of its little head or being upright like it is examining the situation for any potential dangers. Its eyes will be fixated on your body, and it will make some sounds like growling or hissing while looking straight at you without blinking.
• Overt aggressive postures on display
Irrespective of whether a feline is offensive or defensive, overt aggression is classically shown by felines by way of striking or scratching everything in their way. This can also be accompanied by fighting and vocalization. Screaming and roaring aggressive feline targets its prey with its claws either by biting or swatting. Scratching is also a major sign that is shown by cats when they are in aggressive mode.
If the cat is too aggressive, it can start rolling over on the floor, become hyper and bring out all its weapons like claws and teeth to attack whenever possible. It has been noted that cats target their enemies by scratching them and pulling them towards their teeth so that they can sink in their sharp teeth in the enemy’s neck. This makes the target week, and then they continue to scratch them even more to make them a week.
Some of the Common Reasons for Aggression in Cats
There can be many reasons that cause aggression in cats, and there are many types of aggression as well. You must be aware of the reasons and different types which can help you manage your kitty in difficult times. Below are some of the reasons mentioned, have a look:
• Medical Reasons
Aggression in cats is often typical of felines that are recently treated with hyperthyroidism, nervous system problems, hormonal or immune system problems, and liver diseases. This may have to some degree to do with modifications in the cat’s insights of changing the surroundings of a cat. While it is probable, cat behaviorists have faith that even the smallest of changes in a cat’s brain or body can trigger huge changes in its behaviors.
Cats that have contacted lead or any other chemical or have recently been diagnosed with something relating to their mental health can also show signs of aggression. This can be linked to a problem in some part of their brain that triggers these emotions, and it can get better with time after it has been long after your cat got diagnosed.
• Fearful emotions
A cat can act aggressively if there is some danger in its environment, something that is tough for your cat to escape and it has to face, no matter what. For example, getting a new pet like a dog, or perhaps a new cat, or having guests over that constantly want attention from your pet just because it is cute to them. Vet visits can also trigger aggressive emotions in cats, and it is their method of telling you that they don’t like it. They could even be relating it to a previous experience they have when they were sick, and you took them to that clinic.
Cats love their territories and adore their privacy. If they think you are getting into their private space or are trying to do so, be ready to face an aggressive kitty and its claws. Any person who tries to be an intruder will have to be met with the consequences for the same. The same is the case if you get another cat or any other pet, perhaps. Your first cat will not like it, and there will be constant fights between the two, with things breaking around the house for no reason.
• Insufficient playtime experiences with littermates
Cats that never had the opportunity to have playtime with their littermates or never had the chance to actually have fun while playing may display signs of aggression. When cats age with their littermates, they keep in their minds that if they scratch or bite too much, their littermates will not like to play with them at all. Therefore, they learn how to have a good time and are less aggressive. On the other hand, cats that never got this chance don’t know how to control their urge to scratch or bite, and this turns into aggressive behavior over time.
• Status in the group or social dominance
Cats think of themselves as masters of the house. According to them, they have dominance over any other pet and their human parents. They tend to make hindrances for other pets even when they don’t do anything just to show that it is their territory and they rule the place. Instead of overreacting and giving attention to their actions, simply ignore them as this will give them an idea that what they are doing is not making any difference, and they will soon give up. Do not attempt new things on them during this time as it can increase their aggression, and consequences can be worse.
• Overstimulation in their bodies
No one knows why this happens, but it is noted to occur during excessive petting. The activities that cause this are usually bathing, cuddling, clipping nails, etc. Cats love the control over their bodies, and too much petting can cause them to act aggressively and be violent. Keep your hands to yourself when not needed, and give your cat their private space to unwind.
Although aggression can be caused by almost anything in cats, below are some of the most common types of cat aggression. Knowing these can help you manage them well, read along to get an idea:
• Redirected aggression
This is a type of aggression that can be caused by overstimulation in cats. This is known as redirected aggression. This kind of aggression works as a consequence of triggers; for example, if something hurts your kitty, then it can obviously not tell you directly that it’s been hurt, or it could be some loud sound that hurts their ears. Instead, it will start acting out and show aggression; you have to find out what really happened. It has been seen in some cases that if a feline got in a fight with another cat, then it will show aggression to all the animals that come near it just to shoo them away.
• They are in pain
Pain is the biggest trigger for cats, and if they are in pain, they will want everyone to back off from them so that they can protect themselves from any further harm or hurt. It is your job to find out what hurt them and to what extent. The relief in this kind of aggression is that as soon as the pain is gone, the cat’s aggression goes away too, and there is nothing to be worried about.
• Litter protection
Cats are considered to be very defensive of their litter and litterbox. If someone tries to get close to their litter, they will have to be faced with violence so that they back off. This is the case if the cat has recently given birth or the litter is fresh. As we said, earlier cats are private creatures and don’t like much intrusion.
• Predatory instincts
Cats are predators by nature. Most cat experts think that this cannot possibly be a reason for aggression, but it is very true, and cats do have predatory instincts due to their ancestral genes.
Although sometimes it is not something to greatly worry about, it can occasionally pose a threat to other pets or human beings as their claws and teeth are extremely sharp, and cats can get uncontrollable. Some are naturally more aggressive than others, but there is no cat that is not aggressive, which is the cause of their predatory instincts that they inhabit.
Handling aggression in felines is more about determining what causes these little animals to act in this way. The problem of aggression usually goes away if the unseen issue is solved; cats don’t act up without any reason. If you seem to find difficulty in making out what the cause is, then you must consult a vet for the same.