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Cats become aggressive and lash out at or attack other pets –– and people –– for all kinds of reasons — fear, defense of territory, pain, overly enthusiastic play, and more. Early socialization, sterilization, behavioral modification, and drugs are the most common methods for avoiding and treating feline aggression.
Aggression is among the most common behavioral issues seen in cats. In most cases the behavior is completely natural and appropriate, though it’s undeniably the case that its manifestation(s) may at times interfere with the peaceable workings of a normal human household.
Generally classified as intermale, territorial, fear/defensive, play, predation, and redirected aggression (though other forms may exist), aggression may be avoidable. And when it’s not, it’s often treatable.
Before initiating any kind of behavioral therapy, consult your veterinarian to determine if there is a medical cause for your cat’s aggression. Your veterinarian can also recommend some tactics for dealing with an aggressive cat to prevent injury to others in your household or to the cat itself.
Aggression can be a complicated condition to evaluate in any species but arguably more so in cats. Some cats may exhibit a single form of aggression, while others may exhibit several types of aggression simultaneously. Understanding the different types of aggression can help get to the root of the problem, but professional help is often invaluable due to the complex nature of the average feline disposition.
Diagnosis is made on the basis of signalment data (male, female, sterilization status, etc.), the pattern of aggressive postures displayed by the aggressive cat, and the circumstances in which the aggressive behaviors occur.
A cat of any breed can become aggressive.
Treatment varies with the type of aggressive behavior. Sterilization, behavioral modification therapy, and pharmacologic intervention are the most common methods for treating feline aggression.
In any case, treating aggression is usually complex. If severe, a treatment plan should be designed and supervised by a behavior specialist. Look for a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a veterinary behaviorist (DACVB).
Preventing feline aggression is generally considered less predictable an endeavor than for canine aggression. As for dogs, however, the most critical feature of this approach involves early and frequent socialization with humans, dogs, and other animals. Socialization with people should begin as soon as possible, and socialization with other animals can start once your veterinarian has administered the necessary vaccines and wellness care.
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
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