how to calm an aggressive cat aggressive black cat

How to Calm an Aggressive Cat

Aggression, a fairly common behavioral problem in felines, is defined as violent or hostile behavior that’s intended to intimidate or dominate another individual.

However, it’s vital to remember that cats aren’t born aggressive, neither is it a personality trait. Different triggers can be responsible for such behavior in your cat, and it’s important to pay attention to understand the reason behind your pet’s aggression. 

Aggression in cats can result in injuries to people and other pets. It’s also the reason why many cats are surrendered to shelters. According to a recent study, negative behavior was the second-most common reason for cats relinquished to shelters.

So, what causes aggressive behavior in cats, and how can you calm an aggressive cat? Let’s find out!

What is Aggression in Cats?

natural ways to calm an aggressive cat cat showing aggressiveness

Typically, aggressive behavior in cats is caused by environmental concerns. In addition, it can be an indication of an underlying health problem.

Whatever the reason, cats express aggressive behavior by growling, hissing, swatting, an open mouth, a stiff stance, or exposed claws. It might even scratch or bite you.   

You should also pay careful attention to your pet’s body language when looking for signs of aggression.

Flattened ears or pressed back with whiskers angled forward or upturned and the tail bristled or twitching are all indicators of potential aggressive outbursts. A cat can become aggressive towards another cat, another animal, a person, or a nearby object.

What Makes Cat Aggressive?

medication to calm aggressive cat cat showing anger

It’s vital to understand that aggressive behavior in cats doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem with it. Aggression is quite normal in cats and can be a totally normal response to playfulness, conflict, and social conflict.

However, if your feline starts to act aggressively towards other pets consistently or humans, then it would constitute problematic behavior.   

Pay attention to what caused the outburst and who’s the target. You can treat your cat’s negative behavior only if you can understand the cause of it.

Reasons Why Cats Become Aggressive Towards Everyone

Reasons Why Cats Become Aggressive Towards Everyone Two Cat Showing Anger Face

The following are some of the common reasons why your cat may be behaving aggressively:

Underlying Health Problem

Underlying Health Problem Cat Anger With Health Issue

Various underlying medical conditions such as epilepsy, trauma, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, toxoplasmosis, dental disease, and sensory decline could cause your cat to lash out at humans or other animals. Regular checkups at your local veterinarian will make it easier to keep an eye on your feline’s health.

Other Cats

Other Cats Showing Anger Face

It’s possible that your cat may have a problem cohabiting with other cats. This could include incompatible temperaments, a lack of socialization, or territorial competition. It’s natural for cats to go into attack mode if they feel provoked or intimidated by other cats.

Unsafe Environments

Unsafe Environments Cat Getting Fears

Cats need their alone time, and your cat can feel stressed if it can’t find a safe place to relax. That’s why it’s important to provide them with quiet places such as high shelves, cat condos, or separate rooms where they can chill without being interrupted.

Fear

Fear Cat Getting Fear

A threatened cat is sure to act out. This threat could be a sound, object, animal, or person. No matter the threat, your cat is sure to become aggressive if it feels unable to escape the perceived threat in its environment.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected Aggression Cat Biting On Hand

Your pet cat may act aggressively if it’s unable to interact with the object of its frustration. For instance, it may become highly reactive if it cannot reach the cat in the yard.

This is also called redirected aggression and can be triggered by simple things like not being able to access its favorite place in the house or not getting enough attention or food.

Ways to Calm an Aggressive Cat

Ways to Calm an Aggressive Cat Mentally Taking Peace

Now that we know the causes behind your pet’s aggression, let’s look into the best ways to keep your cat calm. Here are some easy tips to you put your cat at ease. 

Herbs

Herbs Infront of Cat

One of the best natural ways to help your cat is by using herbs like catnip, valerian root, and silver vine. These natural remedies are stimulants for cats and when administered in safe quantities help to calm your cat. Other medications to calm your aggressive cat include fluoxetine, gabapentin, and trazodone.

Cat Pheromones

Feline pheromones are available as sprays and diffusers, wipes, wall plug-ins, and as part of a cat collar. They are excellent in reducing anxiety and stress-related behavior in cats; however, be sure to ask your pet before purchasing any cat pheromones

Act Calm

Act Calm A Lady adoring cat

Your response is as important as the reason behind your cat’s aggression. If your pet is striking out at you or showing aggression, then it’s best to move away from it.

This won’t just keep you safe, but will also help reduce your pet’s anxiety. Trying to calm your pet down or moving closer to it may result in a more aggressive attack. 

Interrupt Aggressive Behavior

Interrupt Aggressive Behavior Cat Playing with Toys

If your cat is acting aggressively, divert its attention by engaging it with its favorite toy. Making a sharp sound like a hiss or a clap also works in sidetracking it.

Avoid Physical Punishment

Avoid Physical Punishment Don't sign about cat punishment

Any type of yelling or physical punishment can increase your cat’s anxiety. Even if you punish it lightly, like bop it on its nose, you might further worsen the aggression. 

Positive Reinforcement

Rewarding good behavior is a great technique to let your cat know that it’s doing a good job. Catnip and treats go a long way in reinforcing non-aggressive behavior.

What to Do in Case of a Cat Bite

What to Do in Case of a Cat Bite Cat Biting Hand

In case you have cat scratches and bites that require medical attention, first secure your cat in a room away from you, other animals and people, and then treat your wounds. Make sure that your cat has access to water, food, a scratching post, and a litter box.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, it’s possible to reverse negative behavior, especially if it’s identified early on. Be sure to give your cat a safe environment to relax, hang out, and spend some quality time.

Determining the reason behind your its aggressiveness will make it easier to change its behavior. Getting your cat neutered or spayed can also help manage negative behavior. If you’re unable to calm your furry little friend on your own, it’s advisable to seek help from a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.

Author

Picture of Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn is an animal advocate, cat expert, and the proud mom of 2 rescue cats, Sugar, a beautiful fluffy tabby and Beebee, a black, fluffy beauty. Evelyn has studied animal care while volunteering at her local shelter. She loves all animals and wants to share the animal knowledge she has been lucky enough to gain together with knowledge from other experts with cat parents across the world.