Cat owners are often completely confused about what causes this type of aggression. It seems that they do nothing unpleasant to the cat, they stroke it, caress it, as always, and suddenly the cat, for no reason, begins to bite or scratch.
This type of aggression is often called pet-induced or affection-induced aggression. Cat owners often think that this aggression is not motivated and the cat is just harmful or mentally unstable. Of course, what else can you think of when the cat begins to devour the hand that is stroking it and the pleasant stroking and scratching session suddenly turns into a bloody battle.
Here are five steps to identify and correct petting aggression in cats:
1. Veterinary examination
Ask your veterinarian to examine your cat because sudden aggression can be caused by pain. The cat may not react when you pet it in some places, but it may feel pain if you touch another place on its body and show aggression. Going to the vet will make sure that the aggression is not caused by trauma or an acute condition such as arthritis, toothache, abscess, etc.
2. Have you interpreted your cat’s intentions correctly?
Sometimes the reason your cat may bite while petting is because you misinterpreted its intentions. Perhaps, in fact, the cat came up to you not to caress, but wanted to play. Its energy hits from all the cracks and the cat endured your stroking for a long time, expecting a fun game, but in vain. Then stroking can provoke play aggression (the cat begins to bite and scratch hands in an attempt to play) or pet-induced aggression – the cat begins to bite to let you know that it does not want to be stroked at the moment or when the cat is even more overexcited from petting.
3. Read your cat’s body language
Even if it seems to you that your cat is showing aggression without any warning, usually, before the attack, the cat displays several body language signals that the owners often simply do not notice. If you don’t pay attention to your cat when you pet it, it may seem like its attack is unpredictable, but from the cat’s point of view – it has already told you a hundred times to stop! If you have a cat that has previously shown petting aggression, then you need to watch its body language when you pet it. You shouldn’t be distracted or you will miss the warning signs from the cat again.
Here are some signals from your cat’s body language that may indicate that it no longer wants to be petted:
-Twitching of the skin on the back and sides
-Change of body position
-Ears close to the head
-The cat looks back at your hand
4. End petting on a positive note
To help your cat feel more comfortable when petting it, you need to pay attention to its level of tolerance so that you can stop petting well before attacking. Pay attention to its body language and stop fondling before warning signs start to appear. For example, if you know that you can usually pet your cat for about two minutes and then it starts biting, then stop petting it after about a minute to end the conversation on a positive note.
Even if the cat doesn’t have enough affection, than you overdo it and the attack will be repeated. Stopping petting on time can help keep your cat’s experience with you. This will break that vicious circle when the cat is already convinced that the only way to get you to stop stroking it is to bite or scratch. At the very least, stop petting your cat when you see the first negative body language signal.
Pay attention to what kind of petting your cat loves more. It may like to be stroked on the back of its head, but not at the base of its tail. Petting in some areas can actually cause too much stimulation and cause the cat to become aggressive from over excitement.
5. Never punish your cat
If you scream, beat or chase your cat for having bitten you during a petting session, then you achieve only one thing – you make the cat fear you and more often respond with aggression to any of your suspicious actions. The cat does not bite because it is angry, stupid or mentally abnormal. It bites and scratches when it feels like it has no other way to fix the problem. From its point of view, all other forms of communication with you have failed.
If you watch your cat’s body language closely, pet it wherever it likes, and stop petting long before it reaches its peak, you have a very good chance of changing your cat’s behavior and preventing petting aggression.