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When a cat displays aggressive behavior, it is important to find out why. Some aggressive behavior should be expected. If a cat feels its in danger or is protecting its territory, you should be prepared for some hissing or biting. But when your cat lashes out for no apparent reason, you have got to get to the bottom of it. The unwanted behavior will continue unless the source is dealt with.

There are several reasons why a cat could suddenly exhibit aggressive behavior. In all cases, it is important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian. If a cat is injured or ill, it could lead to aggressive behavior. Picking up a cat that is injured could cause the pain that makes them lash out. Visiting a veterinarian is the first step. They will be able to give you advice and also determine if a health problem is the cause of the behavior.

In some cases, simple boredom is the cause of aggressiveness. Indoor cats have to find an outlet to release energy and some do it through aggressive behavior. Making sure your cat has plenty of enticing toys available is one solution. You should also spend some time each day exercising the cat through play. Dangle a ribbon or throw a small ball. Helping them exert their energy will leave less for them to take out on you. In all cases, never use your hands to play with your cat. This basically gives them permission to bite or scratch you and this is exactly what we are trying to avoid.

Sometimes adding a playmate is the best solution of all. Cats are social animals and though it may take some adjustments, they enjoy company. You will find that the cats use most of their energy playing “cat games” with one another. It is still important to give each cat individual attention. Cats can display classic sibling rivalry behavior and the original cat especially must not feel like it is being outshone.

If no health problems have been found and all efforts have been made to entertain the cat, simple behavioral training may be needed. Some basics are to always reprimand the cat when it bites or scratches. This should never include striking the cat. A firm “No!” with a tap on the nose may be all that is needed.

Some owners actually encourage their cats to continue aggressive behavior without knowing it. It is instinctive to pull our hand away if a cat is biting or scratching it, but they see this as encouragement, similar to the natural stalker vs. prey incidents. However, experts say it is best to let the hand go limp and firmly say “No” until the cat releases it grip. It is then best to ignore the cat until normal behavior resumes. The cat will soon learn that it will receive no attention acting badly.

Other tactics include distraction. Some owners find that changing the scenario all together stops the unwanted behavior. Many keep a bottle of water handy and give the cat a squirt when it starts to bite. Others keep a small toy available and throw it to divert attention when the cat is attacking.

Just as humans can have chemical imbalances, so can animals. If all attempts have failed, make another appointment with the vet. Extreme cases of aggressiveness sometimes need to be treated with medication. However, this should be the last resort and should not be done out of mere laziness. Having a pet is a big responsibility and they will do things that anger us. Do not go with the quick fix,immediately. Some medications merely sedate the pet and should only be used in extreme cases.