Whether your old cat isn’t getting along with a new feline family member or your cats are exhibiting newfound aggression towards one another, it’s not uncommon for cats living in the same household to disagree. Determining the cause for this behavior can be tricky, but it’s important to get to the source of the aggression in order to reduce or eliminate it and ensure your cats can live in peace.
Levels of Feline Aggression
Negative feelings and tension between cats can manifest in a number of different ways. Some of the most common ways cats show aggression include:
- Dilated pupils
- Thrashing or twitching of the tail
- Crouched or tense body posture
- Flattened ears or whiskers
- Raised hair
- Clawing or scratching
What’s important to note is the level of aggression your cat is exhibiting. Though most of the signs above aren’t physically harm-inducing, a cat’s behavior can escalate depending on their exposure to the triggers or targets of their aggression. If the aggressive behavior is severe or threatens the physical health of either or both cats, it’s best to contact a veterinarian right away. If the aggression is mild, you may be able to find the cause of the behavior and correct it before interactions become physical.
Possible Causes of Aggression in Cats
There are different types of aggression observed in felines that can be useful in helping to determine the cause of this behavior between cats. Playful aggression is exhibited when one or both cats have not been properly socialized. Fear aggression can be caused by an unfamiliar stimulus, like a new pet in the home. Redirected aggression occurs when one cat cannot directly respond to an exciting stimulus, and therefore directs their aggression towards another cat (or their owner).
Pain-induced aggression is seen in cats who are experiencing discomfort or pain. Territorial and status-induced aggression are exhibited to assert territorial and social dominance, respectively. Maternal aggression is a protective behavior seen in female cats that have recently given birth.
Tips for Calming Feline Aggression
Figuring out the cause of your cat’s aggression and treating it at the root is key to eliminating the behavior, but there are certain actions you can take to prevent and reduce the aggression between your felines:
- Introduce a new cat to an existing cat slowly and calmly.
- Separate your cats’ individual resources to avoid competition by placing multiple and identical food bowls, litter boxes, and beds throughout your home.
- If your home doesn’t have lots of open space, create additional perches in your house to allow the cats their own space from one another.
- Reward desired behavior in your cats when exhibited.
- Encourage bonding and group playtime between your cats.
- Maintain a regular routine for both cats.
Concerned About Your Cat’s Behavior?
Since the causes of aggression and other negative behaviors in cats aren’t always obvious, it’s important to report any harmful, concerning, or uncharacteristic behaviors your cat is exhibiting to a veterinarian. At Catonsville Cat Clinic, our feline care specialists are well-trained and highly-experienced with a wide range of cat health and behavioral issues. We can help you not only determine the cause of your cat’s aggression, but also recommend ways to ease tension and promote peace between your furry pals.
Contact us to schedule an appointment today.