Ask A Vet: What Should I Do If My Cat Is Aggressive Toward A Particular Person?

| Published on May 18, 2017

One of the questions asked by a reader concerned a cat that becomes aggressive to a particular person (in this case, the cat belongs to one woman and attacks her mother). I cannot say for sure what exactly is going on with this individual cat, but I can give some general advice about managing aggression in cats.

Aggression toward a human is a very serious issue. This type of aggression is called human directed aggression and it is characterized by a cat is acting viciously toward a human being.

Because this issue involves self-protection (or the protection of another person), it is quite significant.  Unfortunately, this type of antipathy damages the human-animal bond the worst because it is personally hurtful, both emotionally and physically.

Since your safety or the safety of another person is at stake, you must consult your veterinarian immediately in these situations. If there is a medical cause for the cat to react this way, only a veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat it.

If a cat is growling at you and may have already bitten you, try to avoid anything that will precipitate an attack. Be sure never to punish a cat physically, because this will either teach him to fear you or escalate a confrontation. Get medical help for the cat quickly because if there is a medical issue or something causing him pain, he may associate you with the pain always.

If you are doing all you can to avoid confrontation with the cat and a conflict still develops, try to distract the cat to redirect him without physically touching him. You can toss a nearby object across the room to draw his attention while you retreat to a safe distance. Or grab a pillow and gently create a barrier between you while you depart from the situation.

Aggression is very stressful for both of you and anyone else in the household. You must eliminate possible underlying diseases before immediately assuming that your cat is “just mean” or doesn’t like someone. After medical causes are addressed, if the problem persists, there are behavior modification protocols and medications that can maintain safety and restore harmony to everyone’s life.

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