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Aggressive behaviors between cats or between people and cats can destroy the peace of a household and degrade human-animal bonds. There are many types of aggression with varied causes. Early recognition that there is a problem in the household and appropriate behavioral modification is key as such situations often escalate to become intolerable.
A few of the most commonly encountered feline aggression problems:
Play aggression Profile: Kitten who lies in wait behind couch and pounces and attacks owner when they walk by. Kitten who bites and scratches owners in play.
Explanation: This is a natural developmental process in which kittens learn predatory and social behaviors. However, they do not distinguish between kitten and human playmates and frequently their actions are overzealous for their human counterparts. This behavior needs to be curbed and appropriate play taught before they get older.
Intercat aggression Profile: Cats who outright fight, hiss, chase each other. “Play” in which one cat is always the aggressor and ends in fur flying. Cats who exhibit more subtle behaviors such as blocking access to doorways, food, water, litter, windows or other important resources such as the owner’s lap. Cats may stare fixedly at a housemate and cause that cat to withdraw from a situation.
Explanation: One cat is dominant over the other and seeks to control all resources and keep counterpart on guard at all times. This may lead to extreme stress of the less dominant individual, and such problems as inappropriate elimination, hiding, spraying, constipation or diarrhea.
Status-related aggression Profile: Cat who is very forward, greets everyone at the door, sniffs and rubs. May block owner’s entry into room. Wants to jump up on lap and be pet only on their terms. Will bite and run away if attentions are prolonged – often with little warning. Often these cats are fractious when visiting the vet’s office.
Explanation: These cats are very dominant individuals and feel the need to control all aspects of a situation. Steps should be taken to avoid injury.
Each one of these situations can be addressed with behavioral management. If you think your favorite feline falls into one of these categories or has other behavioral problems, please consult your veterinarian to learn what you can do to improve the situation before it becomes unbearable.