We see a lot of cats here at All Pets. Aggression behavior is not uncommon in cats, and we get questions about this from clients who are often pretty frustrated (understandably so). So I thought I would share a case example with you that involved aggression behavior in one of our feline patients. This client described that her neutered male kitten, @6 months old, was jumping and attacking people’s legs and hands, and sometimes demonstrated sexual behavior toward stuffed animals in home.
The technical term for this issue is “feline misdirected predatory aggression”. Normally a large part of young cat’s days are spent being predators, some cats have a larger than average need for that energy outlet. When confined in the house, often the only thing moving is the owners, so the cat naturally uses them for an outlet. The sexual activity that she described is also a symptom. We discussed considering the following:
- Movement stimulates the predatory response, and often owners reinforce this behavior by their understandably rapid movements when the cat demonstrates the behavior.
- Provide increased exposure to other cats and/or environments that allow predatory activity.
- Utilize pheromones (Feliway) that have a calming affect.
- Provide a perch and/or hiding places. Perches are an important part of any cat’s environment.
- Provide food in toys (example Kongs) that the cat has to work at (and expend energy on) to get the food out.
- Increase activity where the owner uses a flashlight or pointer (or other toy) that allows play with the cat that moves the cat away from the person.
- Put toys that receive sexual attention away. If he starts using other toys decide which one you will allow him to have.
- Confine during time periods when he typically shows inappropriate behavior.
- Consider kitty TV videos – birds, fish, etc have been helpful.
- Consider video taping him for us to view the inappropriate behavior.
At first the idea of getting another cat seemed completely backwards – plus she had to convince her spouse! They did get another cat however, about the same age and size as the first. She also utilized Feliway, provided perches, and started playing with the cats with a flashlight (lots of my clients like this – it’s a lot easier to sit in the recliner with the flashlight and let the cat do the work!!).
Her cat’s behavior improved almost immediately upon getting another cat. The two cats played, chased, and mock wrestled almost continuously from the time they met. They had little inclination to jump and grab a person’s hand when they could wrestle with the real thing! The moral to this story is that cats really are not little dogs; they have unique aspects about them that need to be addressed appropriately.
Feline behavior challenges can vary; let us know if you have questions about your feline pal!