Why Your Cat is Anxious or Aggressive

angry cat with red scarf

While most us of realise that cats often seem to have a ‘take them or leave them’ approach to the humans that they live with, it may surprise you to know that aggressive behavior in felines is extremely common. In fact, experts say that it is the second most common feline behavior problem that they are asked to advise on.

An aggressive cat can be a dangerous cat

The size difference between cats and dogs means that many people don’t take cat aggression that seriously, but when your feline friend isn’t feeling too friendly, she has a couple of potentially dangerous weapons that could be used against you, including her teeth and all four paws filled with razor-sharp claws.

Some cat bites and scratches can be extremely deep, putting you and any other pets you have at risk of bleeding, infection and a condition known as scratch-fever. Scratch-fever causes flu-like symptoms, but can be extremely serious in some cases.

Understanding aggression

Aggression is an emotional response meaning that it is a reaction to the way that your cat is feeling. Almost all wild animals use aggression in order to successfully guard their territory and offspring, and to defend themselves should they come under attack. In the above situations, the animal that uses aggression does so because they feel threatened or vulnerable. However, aggression can also be a response to a range of other strong emotions, including anxiety. Alternatively, anxiety may manifest itself in a very different way – more on that later.

It is essential to understand the underlying cause of the aggression if you are to rectify your cat’s behavior.

Types of aggressive behavior

Not all aggressive behavior is physical. There are a variety of ways in which your cat may be aggressive without putting your other pets or your human family in harm’s way. However, aggressive behavior can still be frightening for your family and visitors to your home.

Common types of aggressive behavior in cats includes:

- Hissing

- Raising up on her paws with her back arched

- Growling

- Clawing

- Biting

Common causes of aggressive behavior

Almost all aggression is rooted in fear. It is the cause of that fear that you establish. Typical fear aggression can be caused by a range of factors, such as a new environment, a new pet or family member, or a sudden change in routine.

Some cats suffer from petting-induced aggression. You may have touched a part of her body that is sensitive, she may be over-stimulated or may have simply had enough of being touched. In this instance, many cats will try and drop signals to leave them be. Unfortunately, as humans we are remarkably imperceptive, and we often don’t realise that our cat needs her space until she has become a little aggressive.

If you have multiple pets in your home, your cat may become annoyed or frustrated and lash out, and it may be necessary for you to separate your feline from other animals until she can learn to cohabite nicely.

Anxiousness in cats

While increased aggression is one symptom of anxiousness in cats, there is many other ways in which feline anxiety manifests itself. Some of these include:

- Changes in eating/drinking

- Excessive grooming

- Compulsive pacing

- Regularly urinating or defecating outside the litter box

- Inappropriate scratching of carpets or furniture

Common causes of feline anxiety

Cats are creatures of habit, and anxious behavior is normally associated with changes to their environment and usual routine. Common causes include:

- Moving home or changing the current environment (such as by moving the room where she sleeps, or rearranging furniture)

- A separation from their owner (for example, if you go away on a business trip or vacation)

- Visitors to the home, particularly if they are staying beyond a few hours

- Introducing a new pet to the home, especially if it is another cat!

- Their past experiences, which may affect how they react to innocuous things

If you believe your cat is suffering from anxiety or aggression, get in contact with Bayview Pet Medical and Dental Center. We will be able to advise you what steps you can take to improve your feline’s behavior and make your home harmonious once more.