Feline Redirected Aggression

Filed Under: Cats, Behavioral & Training

Redirected aggression occurs when an aroused cat in an aggressive state attacks a person or other animal that was not the original cause of the aggression. The original target has become inaccessible and the cat directs its attention to a new target or individual. An example would be where an outside cat visits the sliding glass doors to a home housing two additional cats. The two indoor cats typically get along but when aroused into a frenzy, due to exposure to the wandering outside cat, suddenly turn their aggression on one another or alternatively, a human in the area. The indoor cats cannot reach the outside intruder and instead turn their attention to one another. Another example would be where an owner is attacked while breaking up a fight between two cats.

Once the arousing stimulus has been identified, it may be possible to prevent the situation from reccurring. If a strange tom-cat is visiting the home of inside cats, moth balls may be placed in strategic areas to prevent visits, spraying, or marking of territory from the unaltered wandering feline. In certain instances desensitization and counter conditioning techniques may be indicated. When a cat is aroused, it is not advisable to approach the cat.

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, indoor cats

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