Aggression towards humans
Aggression in cats towards family members or visitors is a serious issue which may require the intervention of a behaviour specialist. Cats can cause serious injury by biting or scratching, and such high-risk situations must be prevented. The causes of aggression vary, and you should always let an ethologist evaluate each case and determine the most appropriate treatment. Causes of aggression towards humans include:
- Owners who don’t pick up on the cat’s nonverbal language and continue interacting with it despite warnings. In this case, the entire family should learn when to stop playing games, petting the cat, and any other behaviours that the cat could interpret as threatening.
- Cats that are nursing their litter and feel threatened.
- Some endocrine diseases, pain, stress... Any time a cat shows signs of aggression, they should always be medically examined by a veterinarian to rule out these natural causes.
- Aggression during playtime: if the cat doesn’t have enough stimulation at home or wasn’t properly trained as a kitten, it may respond aggressively to games where humans use their hands or that otherwise simulate hunting.
- Stress-based aggression: cats with a lack of stimulation or environmental enrichment may develop aggressive behaviours resulting from stress.
- Aggression linked to spacial/territorial control: in homes with multiple cats or other animals, and/or big families, especially with children, the cat can feel like it has lost control of its environment.
- Fear-based aggression: the cat perceives the human as a threat and therefore tries to defend itself.
- Aggression due to predatory instincts: some cats with insufficient space or stimulation may channel their hunting behaviour towards the members of the family.