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Healthy Cats

Aggression in Cats

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A poorly socialized cat should be allowed to retreat from threatening situations and not forced to confront the causes of his anxiety. These cats are often “one person” cats. They make excellent companions but must be watched carefully around strangers, particularly children.

A frightened cat who resists handling should be left alone until he is relaxed. Minimize all stimuli that impose stress and elicit fear. One way is to feed the cat. Sit alongside as the cat eats and speak soothingly. Soon, the cat will come to you for petting. However, if the cat is too frightened to eat with you nearby, leave him alone for meals, because not eating can lead to serious health problems.

When cornered in unfamiliar surroundings, a frightened cat may hiss in an exhibit of defensive aggression.

Cats who like to be petted or handled on their own terms should be respected as individuals and treated accordingly. Do not encourage aggressive play as it may easily escalate. And never, ever play with any cat, no matter how relaxed, using your hands or any part of your body as a toy. The cat cannot be expected to know when body parts are fair game and when they are not.

It is important in cases of aggression to seek the advice of a qualified feline behavior expert. Try to identify the exact type of aggression, as this will aid a behaviorist in setting up a modification program. To determine the cause of aggressive behavior, consider how and when it started, the circumstances under which it occurred, and what the various attacks may have in common. True aggression should be distinguished from play pouncing.

A truly aggressive cat may need behavior-modifying drugs and you should consult a behaviorist or veterinary behavioris, but they should only be used in conjunction with behavior and environmental modifications.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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