How to calm aggressive cat behavior

Written by susan paretts Google
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How to calm aggressive cat behavior
Stress and a new environment can cause aggressive behaviour in cats. (cat image by Ivan Zhelev from

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, aggressive cats not only have the potential to inflict harm on owners and other pets with their sharp claws and teeth, they can also cause lacerations and infections. To keep your cat calm and relaxed, determine the cause of your cat's aggression. Several factors may play the role in your cat's aggressive behaviour such as its health, past social interactions with humans or a sudden change of its environment. With some training and calming aids, you can alleviate your cat's aggression and keep peace within your household.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cat toys
  • Cat treats
  • Feliway spray
  • Feliway diffuser
  • Bach Rescue Remedy for pets
  • Empty can
  • Coins
  • Spray bottle

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  1. 1

    Take your cat to a veterinarian for a check-up. Certain medical conditions can cause pain and discomfort for your cat. Pain may make your cat agitated and prone to attack you or another household pet. Follow the treatment regimen your veterinarian prescribes for your cat, including pain medication. Avoid rough handling or picking up your cat, especially if your vet diagnoses it with a condition such as arthritis.

  2. 2

    Place a bell on your cat's collar to keep track of its movements and prevent surprise attacks. Cats naturally have a hunting instinct and some cats will aggressively pursue the feet and legs of its owner. Avoid these attacks and discourage this behaviour by avoiding contact with your cat if you hear the bell. Give your cat appropriate outlets for its energy, such as giving it a toy to chase on a string. Praise good behaviour verbally.

  3. 3

    Close the blinds in the windows if outside cats upset your cat. Some cats will become aggressive at the sight of a strange cat in what they consider their territory. These cats may then take out this aggression on you or another household pet using redirected aggression. This aggression appears to come out of nowhere and can occur an hour after the sighting of an outside cat, according to the ASPCA.

  4. 4

    Plug-in a diffuser containing Feliway which is a synthetic version of a cat's facial pheromones. These pheromones contain chemical signals that convey a feeling of safety to your cat. Spray Feliway in areas your cat frequents or where aggression occurs more often. You can use both the spray and diffuser to discourage inter-cat aggression in your home, in addition to aggression toward people.

  5. 5

    Add 4 drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy for Pets into your cat's water dish two to three times per day or place the drops directly into your cat's mouth. Use the dropper and place it between your cat's teeth to open its mouth slightly, then squeeze the drops into the mouth. You can also place the drops on your cat's paws or nose to make it lick the medicine off. This flower essence tincture contains no alcohol and naturally promotes a calm state of mind for the cat.

  6. 6

    Pet your cat for small increments of time and end the sessions when you see any signs of aggression. Irritated cats will flatten their ears, puff up their fur, hiss and growl. Immediately stop petting or paying attention to your cat if it begins to display these signs. Get up and walk out of the room, ignoring your cat until its behaviour improves. Do not pick up or stares at a cat that shows signs of aggression, simply ignore it and walk away. Reward calm, good behaviour with a cat treat to associate this behaviour positively in the cat's mind.

  7. 7

    Distract a cat that tries to attack you or another household pet with a quick squirt of water from a spray bottle. Avoid spraying your cat's face. You can also distract the aggressive cat with a can filled with a few coins or a loud clap. For inter-cat aggression, place the cats in separate rooms until each one calms down. Slowly reintroduce them to each other a few hours later. Some serious inter-cat aggression may need a few days or weeks of separation before reintroducing the cats to each other.

Tips and warnings

  • Spaying and neutering your cat decreases aggressive tendencies.
  • Keep cats indoors to prevent fighting or aggressive behaviour with any neighbourhood cats.
  • Consult your veterinarian for serious aggression problems in cats as they can prescribe certain medications to calm cats such as anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Use food rewards to encourage cats from past abusive situations to tolerate people and other pets.
  • Monitor children around your cat to ensure they do not roughly handle or hit the cat, encouraging or even causing defensive aggression.
  • Do not punish your cat for aggressive behaviour. This will only make your cat fearful of you and possibly increase its aggression toward you or another household pet.
  • Use Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets only since it does not contain alcohol.
  • Do not use Rescue Pastilles as these contain xylitol which can be toxic to pets.

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