Aggression in Cats
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
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.