It is not a popular discussion in the animal world, yet it happens all the time. The Animal Planet show “My Cat From Hell” with host Jackson Galaxy, has shed some better light on cat care and disgruntled behaviors. When it comes to an angry or aggressive cat, it is important for you to understand them at their level. In a cat’s mind, they are not domesticated, tamed, or sheltered by any means. To a cat, they are the roaring lion in the African Plains, the intelligent tiger of the Asian forests, and the fierce and deadly panther of the Amazon. Their size has little to do with their attitude to life.
So what makes a cat so angry, aggressive, or disgruntled? You must first look at the personality of your cat. The activity level of a cat can vary dramatically from sex to age, to breed, to personal likes and dislikes. Much like humans, cats can’t all be thrown in a handful of groups and labeled. Owning a cat takes an understanding, it’s as simple as that. Knowing your cat and what makes them the cat they are is the first step to understanding why they are behaving the way they do.
There are different behaviors in which people simply can not tolerate that cats have tendencies to do. Instinctive behaviors can never be replaced with our ideals. Scratching the sofa or your favorite chair means nothing more to your cat than an area to pamper nails and leave their scent. They don’t understand the value of objects, and they certainly don’t understand why you don’t want them touching these objects. When it comes to instinctive behavior, it usually isn’t done out of aggression or aggravation. The most loving and affectionate cat can destroy an entire sofa in 2 hours, but that doesn’t make them a “bad cat” or a “problem cat”. It simply means they haven’t been properly directed. If you don’t have scratch areas in your home that your cat can enjoy, you shouldn’t be mad at them for making their own.
Then, of course, there is disgruntled behavior. This is usually seen as aggression towards owners, people, children, or other cats and household pets. This behavior stems from a dissatisfaction in their living habitat. What I mean by that is, simply put, your house is not cat-friendly and your cat believes it sucks. It doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. This behavior can also stem from distrust, just like in us humans. When we are around someone we don’t trust, we can become aggressive, inattentive, mean, and so on. It is up to you to determine why your cat is a little fluffy ball of anger. In order to determine that, once again, you have to understand your cat beyond the level of thinking of them as just another household pet.
Here are things to look for when trying to understand why your cat is disgruntled:
Have you provided your cat with areas that are cat-friendly?
Does your cat have access to vertical areas in your home? (Cat trees, shelves, runner walk-ways, etc.)
Are there areas in which your cat can go to be alone? (Other than under the bed)
Have you given them areas to play out their basic instincts? (Scratching toys, chaser toys, etc.)
Do you have the proper litter box for their personality? (Some prefer to be unseen while “going”)
If they are not allowed outdoors, have you provided the outdoors indoors for them? (i.e. safe plants)
Does your cat trust you?
Does your cat trust other members of the house? (Avoiding other people in the house, lashing out at them, etc.)
Does your cat get enough friendly interaction/playtime from you? (They need exercise and fun!)
Does your cat show signs of previous abuse from someone else? (Certain objects trigger aggression, certain hand gestures, etc.)
Do you punish your cat in an aggressive way? (Hitting, raising hands, yelling, spraying, etc.)
Is there human to human abuse happening in your home? (Cats can easily pick up on our energy and react to it, even just yelling between two people)
Does your cat only show aggression towards one animal in particular? (Another cat, a dog, etc.)
Does your cat feel threatened by another animal in your home? (territorial or over-aggressive play between the two)
Does your cat have the space to be away from other cats/animals?
Are you feeding them separate meals at separate times? (Jealousy can occur between two cats, even between a cat and a dog)
Are you giving one more affection and attention than the other? (Again, jealousy can be an issue)
Remember that your cat is a wild animal with instincts that have been around far longer than you and I. Never punish a cat for acting out on his or her instincts. That is like punishing a baby for crying when it is hungry. Do not lose hope and try every possible solution. There are so many cats in this world without homes, and taking them to a shelter is just putting them on a waiting list to die. If you simply can’t cope with your cat anymore, find someone who will love them and who can. If you can’t, at least find a no-kill shelter in your area. Keep in mind, cats are not meant to live life in a cage.