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Aggression in Cats

Cats are considered semi-domesticated, meaning they are likely to revert to wild instincts in times of stress, play, or social interaction. Often, this manifests itself in aggressive behavior. This can prove undesirable and even dangerous to family memebers and other pets, so deal with aggressive tenencies early before they get out of control.

Status Aggression

Status-related aggression stems from your cat's natural instinct to create a hierarchy in the household. It's most common in multiple-cat homes when cats have disputes over territory. Fights over territory can become quite violent. Try solving status-related aggression by giving each cat in your home their own space. Separating litter pans, feeding bowls, water dishes, and play areas may be necessary. Be sure to provide plenty of one-on-one attention for each cat in the house, so no one feels favored over anyone else. Over time, you can try slowly reintroducing aggressive cats to one another, keeping them separated with pet or baby gates. Let each cat get used to the sight and smell of the others, familiarizing themselves with the other cats' presence. This process needs to go extremly slowly: if rushed, it may backfire, making it nearly impossible to correct aggression between your cats. 

Play Aggression

Play aggression will resemble hunting behavior: a cat will stalk and pounce on an object--a toy, your shoes, or even your hands--and use their teeth and claws to attack it. Troublesome play aggression often occurs when a kitten is orphaned from their mother or weaned at too early an age, becuase mother cats teach their kittens restraint in ways that humans can't. The best way to combat play aggression is to refocus your cat's energies. Give your cat appropriate objects to take out their aggression on, like hanging toys and chewing objects. Try laser light toys, as cats can stalk and pounce on these for hours without hurting anyone or anything. Don't engage in your cat's aggressive play, since it will only reinforce the notion that this type of behavior is acceptable. 

Misderected Aggression

This type of aggression happens when a cat is agitated by another animal, perhaps an outdoor critter seen through a window, and ends up taking out the aggression on an unsuspecting indoor pet or human. Preventing these occurrences is the easiest way to combat misdirected aggression. Take steps to rid your yard of rodent pests or stray cats, or keep the curtains closed and make sure your cat stays away from likely trouble spots. If you see your cat getting agitated, take other pets and children out of the room and let your cat cool off on their own.

Bottle-Raised Kittens

Bottle-raised kittens are known for becoming very aggressive toward their owners, guest in the house and other pets. As mentioned above, a mother cat teaches her kittens proper manners early on in life. For this reason, place an adult cat--preferably a female--with your orphaned kitten as early as possible. If your cat's aggressive behavior is becoming a problem, the first thing to do is let your veterinarian know. THey can help you determine what's causing your cat's aggression and put you on the path the correcting this undesirable behavior.