Cats are such unique animals and are much more mysterious than dogs when it comes to showing how they feel. Our policy is to treat our clients as we would like to be treated, and to treat their pets as if they were our own. Our clients and their pets are the heart of our practice. At all times, our clients and their pets will be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. Being of service to our clients and their pets is our purpose and our mission. We pledge that we will give all that we have, with all of our hearts, every day. To do this, our staff has learned to speak “cat.”

Has your cat had a moment that turned from loving petting to a hiss and bite? It’s important to know the signs of cat aggression and what it means.

Warning signs of cat aggression

Watch for the following warning signs that your cat might be on the verge of attacking.

  • Dilated pupils
  • Flashing tail
  • Hissing or growling
  • Whiskers and/or ears held flat or pointing directly down or straight out
  • Hair standing up on the back of the neck
  • Backing into a corner and crouching into a small position or trying to look as large as possible

Types of cat aggression

Cat aggression often falls into one of the following categories:

  • Petting aggression — Some cats love to be petted. Others enjoy it, but only on their terms and for a duration with which they’re comfortable. Most cats who are about to reach their petting limit will exhibit at least one warning sign (see below) before losing their cool.
  • Territorial/resource aggression — Cats are territorial. When they perceive something as belonging to them, they may feel compelled to guard and protect it. Resources a cat might defend include scratching posts, food bowls, toys, and even people. A new visitor or pet in a cat’s home could also lead to aggressive behavior.
  • Fearful/stressful aggression — Whether a cat is afraid of some unfamiliar noise or is feeling anxiety or stress because she just arrived home after being boarded during a vacation, cats that feel fearful or anxious are more likely to aggress.
  • Predatory/play-related aggression — Most common among cats that were weaned from their mothers too early, cats experiencing predatory or play-related aggression didn’t have as much (or any) play time with their littermates, and, as a result, never learned bite inhibition.
  • Medical related aggression — Various medical conditions, including pain, hyperthyroidism, cognitive dysfunction, dermatological conditions, and more, can lead to aggression in cats. Cats on certain medications may also experience behavioral changes.

If you have questions about building a stronger bond with your cat, the Oxford Veterinary Hospital team is here to help.

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