Cat Aggression towards Other Cats

Cat aggression towards other cats can occur for many different reasons, and can sometimes lead to a potentially harmful situation. Cat aggression is usually dictated by the natural instincts of a cat, and it can be difficult to tame and re-direct the behavior because it is innate. However, persistent and diligent exploration of aggression between cats can help to provide a constructive solution.

Common Types of Cat Aggression

Every type of cat aggression can be categorized and attributed to a cause. The type of aggression displayed by a cat can help an owner get down to the root of the problem and provide for a method of treatment and, in essence, curb the nature of the aggression.

The most common form of aggression between cats is inter-male aggression. Some male cats tend to be more dominant than others and will undoubtedly fight for the highest cat position in the household. The hierarchy of a cat's social structure demands that one male should be in charge over all others. When another male cat enters the household, one of the two cats will instinctively claim the head position. In most cases, one of the male cats will back down and the leader will be determined. However, if both male cats are equally willed, it could present for a dangerous situation.

Territorial aggression between cats can be directly linked to inter-male aggression, because both types of aggression are attempting to vie for a dominant position. Cats are extremely territorial by nature and don't always take kindly to the introduction of a new cat in the household. While some cats may be friendly and docile, others can be excessively territorial and will attack or stalk a new cat so that the dominant position can be claimed. Although territorial aggression is slightly more common in male cats, especially those that are not neutered, female cats are not exempt from acting in a territorial manner.

Maternal aggression typically only occurs in female cats. However, some male cats will be protective over a litter of kittens as well. Some mother cats are greatly appreciative of other cats when they praise her new litter; others are extremely protective and don't trust any other cat to be near the nest. The over-protective mother cat will fight off any cat, male or female, and can inflict serious damage if she senses danger to her litter.

Treating Cat Aggression

The only way to effectively treat cat aggression is to figure out which type of aggression a cat has. All types of aggression are behavioral problems, but they're still natural behaviors and must be treated as such. Simply penalizing an aggressive cat will not help him to re-train his instincts.

The best way to treat an aggressive cat is to work with the aggression and work around it. When maternal aggression is present, there's no way to reprimand the mother cat without making her turn on a human. Punishment will only cause her to think that she can't trust a human around her litter, either. The best thing to do is to keep the nest away from other cats in the house until the mother cat learns that her kittens are not in danger, and that she can trust other cat members of the house.

When the aggression is inter-male or territorial and there is no serious harm being done, the best way to settle the matter is to allow the male cats to learn who will be the dominant male in the house. While a cat owner should never condone fighting, the matter can be easily settled if the male cats can respectfully determine who the leader will be. If, however, the cat aggression becomes severe and dangerous, one of the pets may have to be removed from the household.