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October 20, 2017

Cat Aggression

Petting induced aggression

There are many flavors of aggression, caused by a variety of triggers. One common aggression that seems to come out of left field is petting induced aggression. It usually occurs when devoted cat people are having special moments with their cats, petting, stroking and cuddling. Suddenly “out of nowhere” their beloved cats turns, bites and sometimes scratches. The physical and emotional damage can be painful. Along with bites and scratches, the victims often take the aggression personally. It just doesn’t make sense to cat-parents why their cats, who they are so bonded to, suddenly hurt them.

The cat isn’t being bad, nor does the cat have a sudden vendetta against her person. Petting induced aggression usually occurs when being stroked and touched becomes unpleasant for the cat. The cat may have a sensitive spot or the stroking may become too intense for her. Or, she may be falling asleep and suddenly is startled awake. In the majority of cases, the cat does try to communicate through her body language that she’s had enough. Unfortunately, most people don’t catch on to her subtle hints. When all other endeavors at communication fail, the cat uses a direct approach that is immediately understood—she bites or scratches.

Avoid being a victim of petting induced aggression by first learning to recognize the warnings. Cats communicate through body language and sometimes through vocalizations when they’ve had enough handling and petting. When cats have had their fill they often communicate their wishes by thrashing their tails, positioning their ears back, flattening whiskers against their face, tenseness and fur rippling. If these subtle messages are ignored, cats will look quickly at the hand that is petting them and then will bite it.

The next step to avoid being a victim of petting induced aggression is simple. As soon as the cat communicates her discomfort at being handled, stop interacting with her. After a time out you may be able to carefully pet her again, avoiding the sensitive areas and varying how she is petted.

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Comments

  1. My son and wife moved in with their younger (3 yrs) siamese female. My cat (10) male has been chased and bitten by her repeatedly. We have to keep them seperated but sometimes she gets out and after him. It has cost me over $1000 to have the insueing infections taken care of.
    Is there anyway these cats can be taught to get along and be together? She seems to be mean as all get-out. Whereas he loves people and is afraid to come out of the room. Searches the whole house to make sure she isn’t out. Hides for days after an attack. She sits by the door waiting. She is affectionate with people, but stalking him all the time. He goes out 2 times a day to eat grass, but is mostly indoors. She is an indoor car.
    Another thing she does is wet their bed more times than I can count. If they roll up the blanket then she doesn’t wet. I’m afraid the mattress is going to be ruined.

    s

    • TheCatCoach says:

      I may be able to help you change the behavior through a consultation. Know that it wouldn’t change immediately, but we may be able to modify this over time, through specific activities and some changes to the environment. Please e-mail me if you’d like me to send you more information

      • Whose behavior are we talking about? The agressive female or the male? How can one change her to be docile? She has visited other homes and gotten along with their animals, cats included. Why she attacks my cat is a mystery. My male has not been around other cats.

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