Aggression in cats is often overlooked as more of a nuisance than a serious threat.
After all, cats are pretty tiny and don’t seem particularly dangerous. Owners often forget that cat scratches and bites can lead to serious infections.
It’s important to look for signs of aggression in your cat in order to circumvent any real trouble before it starts. Here are some clues that your feline friend might be having some behavioral issues that need to be addressed.
Hissing, obviously, is rarely a good sign. It’s also an indicator that your cat might have a problem with aggression if it’s occurring on a regular basis. Unfamiliar people or animals might cause your cat to become wary and let out the occasional hiss, but if she’s aiming it at a member of the family, there’s certainly a problem.
Crouching is often viewed as a playful act, or something a cat does when it’s preparing to hunt smaller prey. However, if you witness your cat crouching when you or another person walks into the room, or the family dog, this could be a sign your cat is harboring some ill feelings toward a member of the pack.
It’s never a good sign when your cat is eliminating outside of the litter box. It could relate to a hidden medical problem, or it could be a sign that your cat is unhappy with something or someone. Particularly, if it seems like your cat is targeting a specific person’s shoes and/or bed, you might not be imagining it. Cats will occasionally mark territory this way and try to display dominance.
Rarely will a cat attack a person or animal without provocation, but you might occasionally see examples of what is known as redirected aggression. This occurs when your cat is bothered by something, usually another cat, but doesn’t have access to it—she may see it lingering in the yard while she’s stuck inside. Your cat then might become aggressive and take out her frustrations on the nearest human or animal.
Cats can often be caught staring off into the distance pondering the complexities of chasing mice and, well, licking themselves. If you catch your cat staring a little too long for comfort, you might want to watch out. Staring is often associated with aggression and is a sign he doesn’t trust you or someone else. So next time you see your cat watching you out of the corner of your eye and think he might be plotting something, you might not be too far off.
Is your cat following you like a stealthy four-legged ninja, rarely ever lingering in the full light of day? A cat that is comfortable and non-aggressive might love following you around the house, but he’s likely to do it openly and unabashedly circling your legs and clamoring for attention. If your feline is tailing you from room to room while hiding behind doors, trashcans, bedposts and cabinets, he might have some nefarious intentions derived from a problem with aggression.
If you notice you cat displaying any of the signs above on a consistent basis it’s important to talk to your vet about the possibility of aggressive behavior or any medical issues that may need to be resolved. A cat’s scratch or bite might not cut an artery, but it could leave you with a nasty infection and high medical bills.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.