The average, healthy cat adopted from a shelter is not aggressive and should not hurt you under normal circumstances. Some cats will occasionally bite or scratch at you when irritated or handled roughly, and some may act mean toward other cats in the house or neighbor cats. But generally, your average healthy cat should not hurt you or others.
Causes of aggressive behavior:
There are several possible reasons for aggressive behavior in cats.
- Lack of handling as a kitten: frequent handling of a kitten is a very important part of bringing up a friendly and gentle cat. When a kitten is not handled much or at all, he can grow up disliking being touched and preferring to be left alone. Such a cat may resist handling with a nip or a slap with his paws. A big part of behavior problems with feral cats is the lack of human handling at a critical stage in his life.
- Mistreatment or abuse: if a cat or kitten is treated very roughly to the point that he suffers pain and discomfort, he will learn to resist human contact.
- Illness or injury: an ill or injured cat, similar to people, can be quite irritable and even hostile. Even an innocent touch can cause pain or discomfort. A thyroid problem is just one condition known to trigger aggressive behavior in cats. Take your cat to a vet to determine if your pet's aggression is caused by being sick or injured.
- Rough handling or play
- Threatening or frightening situation: cats are cautious creatures. Your cat may be frightened of something as obvious as a strange dog or as trivial as a slammed door. In either case, if you are holding him when he bolts, he might scratch you while trying to get away. If it is an extremely frightening situation, he might even bite.
- Stressful living environment: a stressed cat is more likely to bite or scratch or, more often, become skittish. Stress can be caused by many different factors. Your home may not be large enough for your family and your cats. Or too noisy; certain noise levels or sounds may trigger aggressive behavior. If your cat was used to regular time outside and now stays indoors, this change can also cause stress.
- Diet: certain foods, malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can also trigger aggression.
- Old age: old cats sometimes get grumpy. As long as he is not hurting anyone, let him growl or hiss.
- Declawing: declawed cats are sometimes more aggressive or quick to bite.
- Lack of exercise or boredom.
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