Problem Solving: Aggression towards people

If you are bitten or badly scratched by a cat/kitten always seek medical care immediately as these injuries can cause severe infection and illness in people.

Aggression towards people may range from mild to severe.

Aggression may occur:

  • When being patted.
  • During play.
  • During general handling.
  • When being groomed or claws trimmed.
  • When being medicated.

Or due to:

  • Feeling vulnerable and trapped.
  • Redirected aggression.
  • Pain or illness.
  • Wanting to establish social dominance.

What can you do?

  • Sudden onset of aggression should be discussed with a vet to rule out any pain or illness.
  • Ensure all household members learn to read signals cats use to communicate. See below for Cat Body Language poster.
  • Ensure children are gentle when interacting and allow cats time to rest.
  • Young children should not be unsupervised with any cat or kitten.
  • Provide high vertical safe spaces so cats can retreat from children when required.
  • Do not use hands or feet to play rough with cats.
  • Redirect play aggression by using kicker toys or small prey size soft toys. This allows cats to express their normal hunt/catch/kill behaviour.
  • Train cats to accept handling for grooming, nail trims, medication, etc.
  • Click Here for Information on Training Cats Fact Sheet.
  • Learn how to manage redirected aggression and to prevent or reduce inter-cat aggression.
  • Click Here for information on Multi-cat Households Fact Sheet.
  • Provide cats with plenty of exercise, play time, and things to do in their environment.
  • Do not punish or hurt cats, it is likely to make them more aggressive or develop additional behavioural problems such as toilets issues.

If the cat’s aggressive behaviour persists, and vets have ruled out any health-related illnesses causing the aggression, seek the assistance of a qualified animal behaviourist.