Aggression is the second most common behaviour problem in cats, after inappropriate elimination. An aggressive cat entails a certain danger if you are planning to share your home with it. Problems with aggression may vary from cats that interact as little as possible with family members or that hiss when approached to cats that attack people directly and violently. The cat may always behave this way or it may single out certain family members or houseguests.
The most common aggressions occur during play sessions. They may be considered “normal” in kittens and in young cats. They are, in general, “mild” aggressions, but if they are not taken seriously or, even worse, if this behaviour is reinforced by even rougher playing, they could lead to more serious aggressions in the future.
You should consult a professional if the cat’s play is directed towards a family member’s face, especially children; if bites or scratches are serious and if the attacks do not stop despite your efforts to avoid them.
Playful attacks can be effectively prevented if a cat has not been separated too early from its mother and siblings, if it has been socialized properly with humans and if it is provided with the necessary exercise and play.
In too many instances owners do not take their cat’s aggressive behaviour seriously, especially when it is not serious. You should keep in mind that any kind of aggressive behaviour in cats should be examined by a veterinary surgeon specializing in animal behaviour. He will rule out any conditions that could be responsible for this problem, such as pain, since it could, by itself, be the reason for aggressive behaviour, before moving on to behavioural problems.
Detailed information provided by the owner along with a complete physical examination should lead to the correct diagnosis.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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