Grumpy cat? What to do when her claws come out

Aggression in cats is a common behavioural issue, but it is often not taken as seriously as aggression in dogs – it should be, though! If you notice that your cat isn’t exactly the friendliest companion to be around, it’s worth trying to figure out what the reason is and rectify it.

Dogs can do a lot of damage with their bite, but cats can deliver a nasty bite, too! Cat bite wounds are more likely to become infected than dog bite wounds, because cats’ teeth are sharp and needle-like, reaching deep into the skin, which makes the wound difficult to clean and disinfect properly.

They also have those sharp claws to take into account. A scratch from a cat can put you at risk of cat scratch disease, which causes prolonged enlargement and tenderness of the lymph nodes in the head and neck, developing in about two to four weeks and lasting for two to four months. A mild case can be treated with antibiotics.

Don’t panic!

If your cat shows signs of aggression, it doesn’t mean that she is bad or naughty. Chances are she is simply trying to tell you something! Some possible causes could be the following:

  • Just like us humans, a cat can get irritable if she is experiencing pain or discomfort. A visit to the vet is therefore important to rule out this possibility and put your mind at ease.
  • One minute you are cuddling and petting your cat, and the next she goes mad and attacks. This is seen in cats quite often, and could simply mean that she’s had enough. Imagine someone stroking your skin over and over in the same spot – it can become irritating.
  • A scared cat will lash out at whatever is scaring her.

There is a variety of things that can cause your cat to act out, and unfortunately, she can’t tell you what is bothering her. If she has received a clean bill of health at the vet, then it is definitely worth contacting an accredited behaviourist to help you work through the problem.

Stay away! The body language of an angry cat:

  • Ears moving into a backward position
  • A swishing tail
  • Growling and hissing
  • Dilated eyes
  • Fur that puffs up

A peaceful household

Things can get very unpleasant when the cats in your household show aggressive behaviour towards each other. Here are some tips for dealing with the problem:

  1. If you are getting a new cat, be patient when it comes to introducing her to your current cat. Keep the new cat in a separate room for at least a week before bringing her face to face with your current cat. Exchange their smells right from the start by swapping their scratch posts, so that they can get used to each other’s scent. Make these experiences positive by feeding them on each other’s scratch posts, so that they’ll associate each other’s scent with something good, like their favourite meal. After about a week, put one of them in a cat carrier and let the other approach slowly to investigate. Do not force them to face each other; let them set the pace. Once you are confident that they are happy together, let them out in the same room, but keep an eye on the situation.
  2. Make sure that there are places in your home where your cats can go to have some alone time. Cardboard boxes work well for this.
  3. Don’t expect your cats to share litter trays, and keep their litter trays in separate rooms.
  4. Never create a situation where your cats have to compete for food. Provide enough so that there’s no need to fight over it. Feed them in separate rooms if necessary.
  5. Give all your cats as much attention as possible. Jealousy may easily cause fighting, so make sure none of your cats feel left out.

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