Why Is My Cat Aggressive?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, discusses the reasons behind and the methods to correct cats' redirected aggression.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC | Posted: April 27, 2012, 7 p.m. EST

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Q: I have two female cats whom I have had for 10 and 8 years. They are now fighting and I am at a loss on how to get them in the same room again and not kill each other. The younger cat is so scared because the older cat is the attacker.

Once, a stray cat appeared outside my house and the older cat went on the defensive. I think this behavior scared the younger cat. When she now sees the older cat, she spits and growls like a bear and then the older cat attacks.

I love my cats and if I have to keep the apart I will, but I know that they miss each others company. What do you suggest?

A: The inter-cat aggression you are witnessing is redirected aggression. Unfortunately, redirected aggression can change relationships instantly. Cats who were bonded all of their lives can become enemies, intent on hurting each other whenever they are in the same areas. Redirected aggression commonly occurs when there is a neighborhood cat visiting the yard. The inside cat can see the intruder but cannot reach him so she responds by venting her frustrations on the closest cat or person. In your case, the younger cat became the recipient of the older cat's frustration.

In order to help the cats improve their relationship, you need to keep apart the cats and gradually reintroduce the cats to each other. Additionally, discourage the neighborhood cat from visiting your house.

Provide each of your cats her own sanctuary room. Until they are coexisting nonviolently, do not allow them in the others room. Take your time introducing cats to each other again and be patient. Depending on the level of aggression, it can take many months to resolve.

A key component for reintroducing your cats and maintaining a peaceful relationship involves keeping the stray cat away from your home. The presence of the intruding cat will cause your two cats to become aggressive towards each other again. Make your property an unpleasant place for the stray cat to hang out. Safe deterrents such as ultra-sonic devices and some nontoxic substances will help deter him. Lemon and other products that are commercially available are successful to a degree. If the neighborhood cat is a stray, trap the cat and have him/her spayed/ neutered and vaccinated. There are rescue groups who can help you with this. If the rescue group has room, they may take the cat and find him a wonderful home.
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Why Is My Cat Aggressive?

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Reader Comments

Jody    Phoenix, AZ

5/5/2012 11:43:50 AM

Very interesting article. I can understand this person's frustration with this situation.

Samantha    Mission, BC

5/3/2012 9:08:22 PM

Interesting article.

Anon    City, CA

5/3/2012 8:08:30 PM


Alicia    Hollister, CA

5/3/2012 7:13:49 PM


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