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Re-Directed Aggression in Cats


angry catHow often have you been in this situation: You walk into the room and for no real reason, your usually snuggly cat is just bothered by you. You reach forward and give them a pet, only to have them sink their claws into your hand. Why is this? The reason may actually be due to re-directed aggression, and thankfully it has nothing to do with you at all. Read on to find out how you can spot these situations and avoid them entirely.


Felines are a very sensitive species. They’re prone to fits of stress at the slightest provocation, and much of the time it’s not your fault whatsoever. The simplest answer to their strange aggression is the presence of another cat somewhere in their general vicinity, most likely outside being viewed through a window. Oddly, this simple instance can be the entire cause of your unlikely scratching attack since your kitty was merely readying itself should it need to fight that cat outside.


That’s why the most important thing you can do is not take this personally. Actually, even more importantly, recognize when your cat is in tensed-up-ready-to-strike mode and leave them be. This can be as a result of the aforementioned outside cat, or it can be something that’s spooked them indoors like the sound of a vacuum or things of that nature. Essentially, startling sounds that also tend to be bothersome and unexpected.


To avoid this problem, one of the easiest things to do is remove the stressor. Should that be a cat outdoors, close the blinds or go outside and chase the cat away yourself. If it’s a sudden noise in the house like a book falling off a shelf or the vacuum wrapping up a quick session, you’ll probably have to just wait it out and leave your kitty alone until it calms down. Thankfully, most cats can become calm again fairly quickly, usually after just a few minutes, but there are times when your cat can be spooked for thirty minutes to two hours. Still, all you can do is leave them to relax, or misdirect their mind toward food or something.


There is another method to preventing this re-directed aggression, but it’s the most complicated and involves training your cat to be relaxed around the things that usually stress it out. You probably can’t do anything about the territorial part of them disapproving of other felines invading their space, but when it comes to other annoyances you have a fighting chance. What you’ll need to do is slowly desensitize them to the sounds or things that bug them, so this means recreating the sounds at a softer intensity at regular intervals, then ramping up the volume little by little over time until your cat has learned to be calm and simply ignore the offending noise. This method isn’t a quick fix and requires days of conditioning, but if done right then you may have a much more relaxed kitty.


Next time your loving pet takes a chunk out of your arm, don’t respond with malice. Rather, recognize what could be the real problem and do what you can to help, even if that means simply leaving your cat alone. After all, no one likes to be bothered when they’re stressed.



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