Feline Predatory Aggression

Filed Under: Cats, Behavioral & Training

Predatory aggression concerns the natural instinct of cats to hunt. Cats in a predatory response may stalk silently crouching or in a slow walk, often followed by a short run. Hunting skills don’t necessarily need to be learned from their mother. Hunger is not a prerequisite for hunting but will certainly encourage the response. The natural prey of cats are rabbits, small rodents, insects, lizards, and birds.

Typically, it is the owner that has a problem with this part of their cat’s personality. Some owners deplore their cat’s killing of native birds and other small animals, bringing dead prey home and consuming them on the front doorstep, or playing with live prey before killing it. Indoor cats may also attempt to stalk and catch other household pets such as birds, lizards, and caged rodents. This is a normal behavior for a cat that is offensive to some people.

The only treatment for this form of aggression is to limit the cat’s exposure to prey. Cats that hunt outdoors may be confined to the house. Alternatively, a bell may be placed on the cat’s collar, thereby alerting other animals and birds to the cat’s location. Bells may not prevent very young animals from being captured. Punishment in the form of a loud noise may startle the cat when it begins to stalk its prey but may only be a deterrent in the location in which it was applied. Punishment at the time that the prey is brought home is too late to deter the response and will only make the cat afraid of the owner.

When a cat hunts other pets indoors, it may prove helpful to booby trap the area around a pet’s cage. Possible booby traps include a scat mat, which is an eclectically charged mat used to keep a cat from approaching an off limit area, or water and noise barriers.

References:

Beaver, Bonnie. Feline Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians. W.B. Saunders Co. 1992. Pp. 97-115.

Crowell-Davis, Sharon. “Intercat Aggression.” Compendium for Continuing Education Veterinarian. September 2007. Pp. 541-546.

Horwitz, Debra. “Feline Aggression Directed Toward People.” NAVC Clinician’s Brief. May 2007. P. 33-34.

Marder, Amy and Victoria Voith. “Advances in Companion Animal Behavior.” Veterinary Clinics of North America. Vol. 21. No. 2. W.B. Saunders Co. March 1991. Pp. 315-327.

Topics: aggression

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