Aggression towards people is often a natural defence reaction which is inappropriate either in its intensity or its context. Fear is often implicated and may stem from lack of appropriate socialization and habituation as well as from specific traumatic experiences. The specific presentation will vary with the aetiology.
Petting-biting syndrome: the threshold for displays of aggression will vary considerably between cases, the cat will tolerate a certain amount of handling and then suddenly bite and claw the owner.
Misdirected predation: aggression will be triggered by movement – typically owners are attacked on the legs, hands and arms.
Frustration-related aggression: cats become aggressive to owners when their demands are not met.
Fear-related aggression: this form of aggression is displayed when the cat is challenged or feels threatened.
Redirected aggression: this type of aggression is directed toward people who are nearby although the actual motivation for the aggression is unrelated to the human, eg when seeing another cat in the garden when they are restricted in the house, they may turn their aggression on people.
To find out more on this topic, watch out for The Webinar Vet’s latest webinar on Understanding human-directed (or cat to human) aggression in the home by Vicky Halls on 21st May at 8.00 pm.
For further information on Aggression check out this related content on Vetlexicon Felis: