For today’s post, I thought I’d share with you a case I’m currently working on. Cate contacted me about her year-old cat Chester, who is a Siamese-mix, and exhibiting cat aggression. She has had Chester since he was just shy of two weeks old, which is a critical time when kittens need to be with their mothers. And unfortunately, many cats (especially males) who are separated from their moms too early start exhibiting aggressive behavior, just like Chester did. Chester would attack hands, feet, and bite them, which was obviously no good! Cate thought that Chester might need a companion, so she adopted an older cat, Charlie. Well, Chester didn’t change much, and Cate was worried that she wouldn’t be able to live with Chester and his intense play and predatory aggression. And as most devoted pet owners know, that’s a horrible decision to be faced with.
Fortunately, Cate has been able to implement a few things that have resulted in Chester starting to turn his behavior around! After only two weeks, Chester is learning that acting aggressively towards Cate and Charlie results in Cate and/or Charlie leaving, and having nothing left to play with. It’s no use punishing a cat like Chester, because he won’t make the connection between his behavior and punishment – all it will do will make him fear his punisher, which can cause even more aggression, albeit fear-based. So instead, Cate is rewarding Chester’s appropriate behavior with treats and toys. And perhaps most importantly, Cate is learning how to recognize the signs of Chester becoming aggressive or when he’s about to attack Charlie, at which time she’ll distract him with another activity that brings him down from the ledge. With increased activity through play, and clear messages about what is and isn’t acceptable, Chester will eventually learn that aggressive behavior won’t bring him anything he wants.
And I’m so happy that Chester is making progress – even some recent house guests noticed the difference! It is taking work on Cate’s part to stick with the behavior plan, but I’m looking forward to sharing more positive results about Chester soon. Cat aggression can never be completely “cured”, but it can be managed…and Cate has a great start.
Thanks for stopping by and reading! Have you ever had to deal with cat aggression? If so, what did you do to treat the problem? Please share in a comment below!
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