How to Deal With an Aggressive Kitten?

aggressive kitten

Demonstrating aggression is quite a common behavior issue noted in felines. This comes next to litter box issues. Although kittens may seem to be less harmful, aggression is not something to be taken lightly. Hence, you need to understand what is triggering the reaction in your kitten and work to prevent it. In this article, we discuss in detail about dealing with an aggressive kitten.

Cat attacks are either play aggression or predatory. Regardless of the case, you need to address the behavioral issues by giving them a little attention. For this, you need to monitor the body language of your kitten. This will give away telltale signs of what is building aggression in your little pet.  

Why kittens get aggressive? 

The hunting and stalking instincts of their ancestors can still be strongly noted in house cats. Just a slight movement can grab their attention and provoke their instincts. This implies that the cat can consider a slight movement of any toy, curtains, robot vacuum cleaners, your hand or foot to be a prey or a threat. Hence, they get this urge to use their claws and teeth to launch an attack.  

Curiosity and fear trigger aggression in most cats. A kitten guarding its territory can also perceive another animal or a small child as a threat. Initially, this behavior comes across as normal. However, if it doesn’t subside in a couple of months, then you may need to take some action. 

How to identify feline aggression? 

It is not hard to identify feline aggression. The body language of your kitten can be given away by facial expressions, the position of whiskers, tails, and ears, and also body postures. Hence, learning what each posture means can help you in managing the problems quite effectively. Also, this will help you build a better relationship with your kitten.  

You need to remember that aggressive behavior can either be defensive or offensive. An offended cat can be more intimidating and appears larger. A cat that is just trying to defend itself will appear smaller. Offensive postures include a direct stare, facing the target directly, constricted pupils, ears rotated slightly forward, stiffened rear legs, and a puffed out tail.  

A defensive cat will be seen with its eyes wide open, crouching, tail tucked in, head down, ears flatted backward or sideways, and dilated pupils. Also, defensive cats tend to hiss at their opponents. The whiskers seem retracted. Hence, then can judge the distance between them and the object of threat. Further, the defensive cat may launch an attack with front paws. The claws would be exposed in this case.   

It is natural for kittens to play rough. They learn while playing. The body posture gives a lot about the play aggression. Your kitten’s tail would be lashing back and forth during a play. The pupils will dilate while they tend to get aggressive, and their ears will remain flat against their heads. A normal play session may result in scratching and biting if not taken care of. If you leave your kitten for long without allowing them to play, then they may be extra rough while interacting with you as they are bursting with energy. 

Spotting signs of aggression 

Both predatory and play aggressive are marked by distinct body language. 

  • Alert stance and hunting postures
  • Springing or lunging at the prey 
  • Tail swatting, meowing and twitching 
  • Demonstrating bluffing behavior 

Why is my kitten so aggressive all of a sudden? 

There may be various reasons as to why your kitten has become aggressive. Here are some different kinds of aggression demonstrated by a kitten. It will help you pinpoint what exactly is triggering the behavior in your aggressive kitten.  

Predatory/Play aggression 

This kind of aggression revolves around the normal hunting instincts in a kitten. In some cases, the play aggression becomes rough as the kitten was encouraged that behavior by their humans. Also, rough-housing can contribute to aggressive behavior. If the kittens aren’t getting enough play, then boredom and excess energy can result in such behavior. To rectify the issue, you should never ever play rough with your cat. 

Aggression due to Overstimulation 

Aggression caused due to Overstimulation can be frightening and frustrating. You need to understand that kittens are highly sensitive creatures. They cannot take too much stimulation all at once. Also, you must be aware of the off-limit areas. If you stray too close, then you are bound to get scratches. Regardless of the case is, there just a few kittens that would attack without giving away any signs of warning. If you are raising a cat, it is best to be an expert in understanding their body language. 

Redirecting Aggression 

This results when the cat is either upset or frightened. You need to identify the real cause behind the behavior. Often, the victim is another pet or cat at home. The mere sight of the victim may trigger the entire behavior all over again. If there is a problem between two kittens, the best thing to do is rectify the behavior when young. Else, you will have to end up separating them altogether for a while, followed by gradual reintroduction. If your kitten is aggressive towards your dog, then it may be redirecting its aggression towards it. Also, play therapy can prove to be beneficial in young kittens. 

Fear-induced aggression 

This is something that all vets are aware of. Here, the kitten gets aggressive pretty quickly and launch an attack in no time. In such situations, fight or flight syndrome kicks in. If the cat doesn’t have enough space to flee, then it can hurt badly. Again, play therapy should help lower anxiety issues in a kitten. If the kitten is aggressive towards the older cat, then check if the older cat is bullying it when you are not around. Identifying the reason always helps.   

Pod-cat aggression 

This kind of aggression can be noted in kittens that have gone out of the house either to a groomer or a vet for vaccinations. The signs can be noted when they return home and start acting aggressively to other inmates or you. Although cats identify others with their vision, smell plays a crucial role too. When they go out and come back, the smell is not the same because of anesthesia or shampoo. This results in conflict and hence triggers a reaction. Several cat owners claim that putting a drop of vanilla extract on all cats’ works wonders. Occasionally, temporary separation may also work.  

Aggressive after neuter 

Your kitten may also show signs of aggression after getting neutered at a vet. An aggressive kitten biting is not something new. If you notice your kitten trying to scratch or get rough, then it is better to separate them and allow them to rest for a while.  

Different kinds of aggression noted in kittens

Predatory/Play aggression

  • Due to hunting instincts in a kitten

  • Wrong behavior encouraged by the human trainer

  • roughhousing

  • not getting enough play

  • excess energy and boredom

Aggression due to overstimulation

  • Results due to overstimulation

  • Kittens are highly sensitive

  • You need to be aware of off-limit areas

  • Cats in generally never attack without giving signs of warming

  • Become an expert in understanding kitten body language

Redirecting aggression

  • Results when the cat is either afraid or upset

  • The victim is another pet or cat

  • Identify the real cause behind the aggression

  • The mere sight of the victim can trigger the same reaction

  • Separate and then gradually reintroduce

Fear-induced aggression

  • Fight or flight syndrome kicks in

  • Can hurt if it doesn’t flee

  • Play therapy must be used for lowering anxiety levels

Pod-cat aggression

  • Noted in kittens that have gone out either to a vet or a groomer

  • Separate for a while if nothing works

  • Pour a drop of vanilla extract on each kitten to sort smell identification issues 

Aggressive after neuter

  • Getting neutered can also stress your kitten

  • Allow them to get rest before bringing them in contact with other house inmates

How to stop aggression in kittens? 

You cannot treat feline aggression as a joke. An aggressive kitten can disrupt the peace in your home. If the problem is not fixed at an early age, then it may become difficult to manage it later. It is pointless to respond once the problems have manifested into something big. Regular play therapy is a must to treat an aggressive kitten. Also, establish a routine at home. Never consider declawing your kitten. Many behavioral experts believe that this can make the cat even more aggressive. Try flower essences. Many cat owners claim that it helps calm their cats with behavioral issues.  

  • Put a bell on the aggressive kitten so that other cats or small children at home can escape and await your interruption  
  • Use citronella spray or a water gun for stopping an attack 
  • Play interactive games with your kitten to burn its energy off
  • Creative a daily routine 
  • Include ample time to play 
  • Neuter or spay kittens before their first birthday 

Fixing biting and scratching issues 

Play aggression in kittens is quite normal. Rectify the behavior as soon as possible. Never use your hands or feet as play objects for your kitten. Use a stuffed toy while playing. Indulge in interactive play twice a day for about 15 minutes. Never use any form of physical punishment on an aggressive kitten. Further, they will grow fearful of you and will tend to avoid you. Try to give signs to your kitten that the behavior is not acceptable.  

Scratching Furniture

Scratching is a normal behavior noted in cats. They use this as a way to mark their territory. Also, they may be trying to sharpen their claws by scratching against something. You need to make sure to have the claws trimmed. Focus on controlling what the cat is scratching rather than trying to eliminate the behavior.  

  • Identify what your cat loves to scratch and provide them with a similar object 
  • Does your kitten love a horizontal or vertical surface? 
  • Does it scratch the fabric or the carpet? 
  • Place a scratching post in the region where your kitten generally scratches 
  • Place catnip, treats or toys on the scratching post to make the entire activity fun 
  • Scratch it yourself and see if your kitten mimics you. Reward him if he does it right 
  • Drape a net over items you don’t want your kitten to scratch  

Houseplant chewing 

Cats love eating and chewing greenery. You can give them certain grasses to chew on. However, an aggressive kitten may try to destroy houseplants from venting their aggression. Also, you need to remember that not all houseplants are safe for your pets. Hence, you must take measures immediately if you spot an aggressive kitten in your household interested in your houseplants.   

Here is a list of common houseplants that are poisonous to cats. 

  • Philodendron 
  • Oleander
  • Mistletoe
  • English Ivy
  • Dumb Cane 
  • Lilies
  • Caladium 

How to stop a cat from chewing on houseplants? 

  • Remove all the plants that are toxic to your kittens 
  • Brush chili sauce on the underside of leaves and then sprinkle cayenne pepper on the leaves. Allow nibbling, and then they will never turn to that plant  
  • Move the plant around and repeat the procedure until your kitten learns a lesson 

How to get a kitten to stop attacking you? 

No matter how much you love your kitten, you need to correct it after spotting behavioral issues. Else, you may end up getting scratched or bitten. This can be painful and can pose a significant threat to the other inmates. Here are some steps that you can follow if your kitten is attacking you. 

  • Schedule daily interactive play sessions 
  • Give them their favorite toys
  • Provide more environment stimulation 
  • Place scratching posts and climbing perches
  • Give a time-out if the kitten behaves aggressively 
  • Prevent play aggressive kitten from attacking your ankle
  • Do not punish your cat 
  • Reward them for their good behavior 
  • Understand the cause behind the aggression 
  • Observe their body language and keep a record of their attacks