Click to enlarge

Attack Cat

Attack Cat

Dear Kismet,

I need to know what to do about an aggressive cat. She is 6 months old, sweet one minute, attacking the next. Any solutions? Thanks.

Hi Terris:

Thanks so much for writing to us at I Love Cats, and we very much hope we can help you with your young kitty. Your problem is fairly common, and there are many things we can suggest that might help you determine why she is acting like this and what might be the best things to reduce the ‘attack-cat’ moments.

Many kittens are taken away from their mother and littermates too early and never get a chance to learn what is "too" rough in biting and playing. A mother cat, in no uncertain terms, will let her kittens know when they are nursing too hard or biting too hard in playing with her. Through this, they learn the proper kitty etiquette and go on to grow up knowing how to "play nice".

Usually cats will give some subtle warning signs before they change from sweet to-not-so-sweet. Watch for things like her laying back her ears, extending her claws, twitching her tail and her pupils dilating. As soon as these signs appear, she is likely to quickly take a swipe or a bite.

Depending on your cat, you can either stop your interaction, get up, walk away, and if she stays nice give her a little food treat or reward. This way, she is being rewarded with something she likes for being the sweet kitty. You can also get out her favorite toy if she stays nice so, again, she is being rewarded for not becoming an attack cat.

Often there are certain places on her body you might pet or games you might play that are more likely to cause these personality changes. If this is true with your little girl, avoid those as much as you can. For some cats when you see the signs of agitation building making a noise that startles her a bit, like a cat hissing can often stop them in their tracks. If it does, again reward her and maybe get out her favorite toy to redirect her energy into a positive activity.

If you are still having problems a trip the veterinarian might be in order to eliminate the possibility that there is a physical problem that might be causing her discomfort. In some cases, there are medications that can be prescribed that might help lessen her stress. Maturity usually helps, as wild play is at a fever pitch with a kitten of this age. Maybe some extra playtime with a long toy to keep some distance will help her relax more when it comes to petting time.

You do not mention if there are any other cats, as their presence can trigger aggressive behavior and you might be in the line of fire between her and the other cats...

We hope this information and these suggestions help.


More on the Attack Cat

Dear Kismet,

Thanks for helping me a lot. We do have another cat that is 2 years old, but she seems to play well with her. She does get scared sometimes, but most of the time she doesn't want to be bothered. I don't want to ignore her. Should I keep holding her, or let her come to me? My older cat is out most of the time. But she does ignore the baby a lot. I am stuck.

Hi Again, Terris.

Just like people, all cats are different and some are much more outgoing and affectionate than others are. Some are loners. It sounds like she likes and plays with your other cat, so that is a good sign that she is a happy and well adjusted cat, and may just not need or want as much human attention as your older cat.

You certainly can try and engage your younger cat with games and toys or special treats to reward her for positive behaviors when she interacts with you. If your kitten gets something she likes or wants for doing certain behaviors she is much more likely to repeat those behaviors.

Also, 6-month-old kittens, just like young children, tend to be very active and staying still, being petted is not high on their list of fun activities! They want action and fun, and have tons of energy to burn off. Sitting in a lap while we watch TV is just not a good match for her at this time in her life. I would expect as she gets a little older she will be much more willing to be petted and be held than she is now.

Give her some time and watch her closely to see when she is getting agitated and wants to do something with more activity and I think you will all be just fine.