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Cat Tips

Cats can't "work out" problems, because they're territorial animals. Stop fights between house cats by blowing a whistle, squirting a bit of water or by tossing a soft object, like a pillow, near them.

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Expert Q&A

How Can I Curb My Cat\'s Aggression Towards Other People?

How Can I Curb My Cat's Aggression Towards Other People?

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When guests come to your home, you want them to feel comfortable and for your cat behave.  If instead your cat tends to act out around other people, there may be a specific reason, and you can learn how to help him overcome this behavior.

Aimee Gilbreath, Executive Director of Found Animals Foundation, www.foundanimals.org, explains some possible reasons your cat is acting out. “Most likely they were not socialized with enough human interaction when they were kittens, thus are fearful of those who are not their owner,” she said. “Or they may have previously had a bad experience with a stranger who frightened them or played too rough.”

Sometimes the cause of aggression can actually be injury. If your cat is acting hostile towards guests in your home, he could be trying to communicate that something is wrong. If the aggression is ongoing, bring him in for a check-up with your vet so that any medical issues can be ruled out.

If it turns out your cat is just anti-stranger, try asking guests to stay away from your cat when they first arrive. This will allow her time to gradually warm up and come over when she is ready. “Giving your guests one of your cat’s favorite toys or treats to give to her once she does approach, or to leave near the place she is hiding, will help your cat make the connection that this stranger equals good things,” says Gilbreath.

In the event that your cat’s aggression plays out as him jumping on your guests, it’s important to curb this behavior immediately. To stop him, Gilbreath suggests firming telling him ‘no,’ then moving to the water bottle, giving him a quick squirt (never in the face) to deter him. “After a few squirts, he should get the message and stop as soon as he sees the bottle,” she said.

Your cat may also hiss, which is a warning that she is afraid, bothered or nervous.  Giving your cat space to relax will help calm the aggressive behavior. If you know you have an aggressive kitten, read this piece for more advice on how to handle that.

It goes without saying that the key to helping your cat feel comfortable is patience. It is important to try to figure out why your cat is upset in order to fix the problem. And remember -- punishment is not the answer. Instead, use some redirection to help calm your cat and provide your guests with a pleasant visit.

Tags: cat behavior


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