Redirected Aggression in Cats

Redirected aggression can cause erratic behavior in cats.

Have you ever been around a cat that, suddenly and seemingly without warning, attacked you or someone else in the home?

When this happens, it can seem like your cat is suddenly possessed by a tiger. But she may have a reason for this behavior: redirected aggression.

What Is Feline Redirected Aggression?

Redirected aggression happens when a cat sees or senses what she considers to be a threat or is hyper-stimulated by something but is unable to respond to it directly.

Causes of Redirected Aggression in Cats

Redirected aggression occurs when a cat is scared, overstimulated, or angry about something and is unable to deal with the problem directly. Here are some common scenarios that trigger redirected aggression in cats:

If you or another person in your home is bitten or scratched by your cat, consult with your doctor right away. Cat bites, especially, can quickly become serious if they aren't properly treated.

Redirected Aggression in Cats Can Snowball

If one cat in your home attacks another cat out of redirected aggression, the next time the aggressor sees the victim, the same fear or territorialism may be triggered, causing another attack. So aggression that was originally triggered by an outside source can develop into one cat that continuously terrorizes another.

Diagnosing Feline Redirected Aggression

It can be difficult to determine whether the original cause of a cat's aggressiveness was due to redirection. Unless an owner sees and correctly interprets an inciting incident, it may be tough to establish the diagnosis.

In fact, a redirected attack can occur minutes or hours after the inciting event. The kitty becomes progressively more agitated thinking about, for example, the intruder cat hanging around outside and suddenly "snaps," attacking a housemate.

One clue that redirected aggression may be the culprit is that cats that previously got along well for long periods seem to suddenly be experiencing a burst of aggression and in-fighting.

What to Do About Feline Redirected Aggression

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