Cat aggression is a frustrating problem at best. And, dangerous at worst. Aggressive cats may bite, hiss, or scratch other pets. Even worse, they may attack people.
But, this can be turned around! Can cat behavior training put a stop to unwanted behavior, for good.
Before we can get into cat behavior training, we have to understand the root of the problem. Why is Fluffy biting? (or scratching, or worse...)
Each situation is different, and before applying any cat behavior advice the root must be found.
Cats can feel stress, just like people. Some of the things that induce stress in cats are:
When your usually docile cat starts hissing, biting or scratching other pets or people, something is off. Think about what has changed. Could he be uncomfortable?
Cat health problems often cause cats to become moody, grumpy, or edgy. Consider having him checked by the vet. Also, cat fleas are very uncomfortable.
Sometimes, just feeling better will make a cat his old happy self again.
Changes In The Home
If you've narrowed the cause of cat aggression down to a change in the home, some cat behavior training is in order.
Reintroduction To Other Pets
If the aggression is targeted toward another pet, a reintroduction is in order. Follow these steps:
1) Confine the aggressive cat to his own room for a while. He'll need his own food, water, litter box & hopefully window. Make sure he gets plenty of praise, love and attention during this time.
The goal here is to reduce his stress level and make him comfortable again.
2) When you feel he's ready, switch the used bedding between your pets. This will get them used to the smells of each other.
3) Let the aggressive cat see the other cat from a distance (at least 12 feet) for a brief moment. You could do this by letting him peek through a crack in the door, or having someone walk by with the other pet in their arms. Just keep it brief, and nonchalant. Reward with a small treat!
4) Keep doing this until the aggressive cat is comfortable with it. Increase the time, and decrease the distance.
5) Make it a happy occasion for your cat, always reward!
6) Back-track if he hisses etc.
7) One day, give both pets a bath in the same shampoo, wash all bedding and see if they can co-habitate. Be ready to intervene.
Bathing them in the same shampoo makes them smell the same to each other. It can reduce the competition.
Aggression Toward People:
This type of cat aggression is very unnerving! You can't have a pet cat attacking his owner or houseguests, especially children! Try this approach:
1) Address the claws. Trim them or use a product such as Soft Paws so they can't be used as a weapon.
2) Every time the cat attacks, be prepared to head him off. Use these tools:
3) When the cat is able to display good social interaction with people, make sure to reward him in his favorite way. That could be a treat, or just some praise.
As a rule, the Maine Coon cat breed is loving and docile. These cats are patient with children, and extremely affectionate.
In fact, part of the breed description is that they should have an amiable personality! Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
Some owners of Maine Coon cats find themselves struggling with the problem of cat aggression.
This can happen to any breed, and it has more to do with upbringing than breed. A rescued cat who didn't have the advantage of a loving home may need some cat behavior training.
Here are some other helpful pages dealing with cat aggression, offering cat behavior advice. They are from our Ask A Question section:
Aggressive Maine Coon Rescue
"I adopted Zetty from the local humane society 2 years ago. He's now abt 4 yrs old. He was neutered when I adopted him, but I don't know at what age. I'm his 3rd owner. According to the sketchy vet records that came with him, it appears..."(follow link below to read more)
Aggressive protective male
"I adopted a one year old Maine Coon from the humane society. From the beginning, he was a low fear, high sociability, high aggression cat. He loved spending time with me, but..."(follow link below to read more)
To read these stories and more, visit Aggression Questions and Answers.
With some persistence and patience, you can curb your cats unwanted behavior. Cat aggression is a problem. But cats can be trained. They can become happy family pets; content, secure and loving.