Why Is Your Cat Mean?

By December 21 | See Comments

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Aggression is one of the most commonly observed behavioral problems in cats. Although it is not taken as seriously as dog aggression, it is not something that can be ignored. Compared to a dog, which only has its mouth for a weapon, cats have four clawed paws as well. They can inflict lacerations that can get infected. As a pet owner, you need to know how to read your cat's body language and understand the motivation behind their behavior.

Offensive postures
  • A straight legged, stiff, upright stance
  • Stiff rear legs, with a raised rear end
  • Stiff tail
  • Upright ears
  • Direct stare
  • Piloerection
  • Constricted pupils
  • Facing the opponent directly

Signs of overt aggression include swatting, fighting, biting, shrieking, growling, as well as exposing the teeth and claws.

Classifying aggressive behavior

If your cat displays aggressive behavior, you need to evaluate the case before it gets out of hand. Who does he get angry toward? When and where does it happen? What precedes it? Once you know the answer to these questions, then you can begin to arrive at an answer. Let us take a look at the most common types of aggression:

  • Inter-cat aggression – Aggression between unneutered male cats is very common. As they reach adulthood, they challenge one another for access to territory and mates. It can be easy to tell in tom cats, but not in household cats. As a matter of fact, pet parents don't even notice it sometimes. The aggressor postures and the recipient shrinks and slinks away.
  • Defensive aggression – If your cat perceives a threat, and if he feels that it is going to escalate, then it will be accompanied by defensive aggression. Most common signs include crouching, tucked tail, flattened ears, rolling to the side, leaning away and dilated pupils.
  • Redirected aggression – This is the most dangerous type as the bites can be uninhibited and the attacks are quite damaging. This happens if your cat is agitated by a person or animal that he cannot get at. Unable to reach the trigger, he lashes out at the nearest person. Also, there can be a long delay between the initial arousal and the episode of redirected aggression, sometimes as long as hours.

A vet workup is essential for aggressive cats. Some cats tend to be aggressive because of an underlying medical condition. Acute pain can make the best of us lash out and your cat is no exception. If the vet rules out medical problems, then take him to a good animal behaviorist. They have a lot of experience dealing with aggressive pets and can come up with a plan to address the situation before it deteriorates.

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