correct aggressive kittens

Aggressive Cat Problems

Spraying, stalking, Biting and general feuding can be signs that your cat is too aggressive. Learn how to correct your feline friend to ensure a peaceful home.

Cat Spraying in the House

Dear Simba, We rescued a kitten from
our coconut tree and began feeding him. He has now decided to stick around. He is not an indoor cat and is not neutered. His behavior is friendly and then suddenly he will bite and scratch. I have tried to train him to be an indoor cat, but he is too aggressive…he sprays everywhere! We also adopted a stray female Calico cat. She is the sweetest thing, always friendly and playful! We want to keep her indoors. My problem is that Cat #1 keeps using her litter box and then she will not go near it. He has his own and uses it also. He is also very aggressive towards the Calico. I am having a hard time litter training the calico, what should I do. I should also say that this is the first time that I have ever had cats and have no idea what their behavior means. Double Trouble
Dear Double Trouble,
Sounds like you have your hands full! The thing to do is decide if you plan to keep the kittens for the long term (say YES). If the answer is yes, then your next step is to have the male neutered and the female spayed. This will greatly reduce the aggression issues and the territorial marking. The kittens also need their shots and a vet exam.

It is equally important that you decide whether you are going to keep them as indoor or outdoor cats. You should not have one of each. The reason for this is that the outdoor cat may become infected on the outside and could bring home any diseases to the indoor cat.

As for the biting & scratching, feral cats and kittens can be aggressive at times, this is due to their being raised in the wild where they had to fend for themselves. Give the little guy some time and when necessary, some space. Biting during playtime is many times a friendly act, where cats want greater engagement. Redirect his energy towards other objects (i.e., cat teaser, paper balls, etc). Also, be sure that you read the New Cats for tips on helping your little guy adjust. I am very happy you are helping out the kitties! Take care, Simba

Dear Simba
My roommate told me that male cats spray, especially when upset. I have asked around, and it seems cats spray very little or not at all after neutering. My roommate is concerned they will spray when I leave on weekends. Is there truth in any of this and what can I do to prevent this? Will the fact that they will be growing up in a house where people coming and me away weekends cause this? Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,
Un-neutered cats spray, neutered cats rarely spray. Have the kittens neutered or spayed at six months and both you and your roommate will be fine. You may want to consider keeping the cats in your room or in some closed space while you are gone, that might help ease your roommate's concerns. Your Pal, Simba

Dear Simba,
I have several cats, including a Simba of my own. He is a 3 year old tabby, who my husband and I rescued years ago.
cat scratch postUltimate Scratcher
He has never had any behavior problems. However, he recently started spraying in our finished basement and in the bathroom. He is neutered and had never sprayed before. Most of the problems stem from Karma, a 9-month-old female tabby that recently joined our home. She gets upset whenever Simba enters the room. Simba is a very affectionate and curious cat, and while at first it seemed like he was just interested in Karma, he has started attacking her. We fear this is escalating, Frustrated in Ohio

Dear Frustrated in Ohio,
Sounds like you have a small war taking place at home. Best thing to do is to have them interact in a peaceful setting. One is to have the cats interact in a controlled environment. You or your husband should bring both cats together into a room and with each one of you holding one. Pet and comfort each animal in the presence of the other for 15-30 minutes. Feed them treats and try to have them feel at ease with each other. Discourage any aggressive behavior using a water bottle. Your goal is to have the cats associate good things (and no threats) with their being in the room together. Continue this for a couple of days and adjust your routine as you think is appropriate. Keep me posted. Simba

Kitten Stalks Other Cats

Dear Simba:
I have a 7-month-old kitten, Anakin, who I adopted at 4 months of age. He was not a stray, but acts like one. He attacks our 2-year-old, 20 pound male cat, Sneakers. Sneakers walks away, but Anakin keeps "stalking" him and starts some very serious cat fights (growling, hissing, biting, and a lot of tearing through the house and rolling down stairs). We calm him down by giving him ~15 minute time-outs.

He also goes wild -- literally -- at the site or smell of food, any kind of food. He jumps on counters, knocks the trash can over, tears holes in trash bags to get to the food. I have found half-eaten chicken bones all over the house, I know these can be fatal. He gets on the table (if we are not quick enough) and takes food off the plate. I leave dry food out all day and feed him 1/2 can of wet food twice a day.

When I had him neutered, they discovered that he had worms, and I thought that have been the culprit, but it has been a month and he is still "starved." - Bewildered

Dear Bewildered,
It certainly seems that Anakin behavioral problems. A rough kitten-hood can be a difficult thing to overcome. Anakin is fortunate in having an understanding mom like you. Unfortunately, many kittens are not so lucky. I think that your best bet is to continue the 15-minute isolation periods and to spray him with water when he misbehaves. Be consistent in your application of these measures so as to drive through the message. If you do not see improvement, I suggest that you discuss anti-anxiety medications with your vet. Modern drugs have been known to work miracles on stressed kitties. Keep me posted. Simba

Reader Note

Hi Simba,
This is for the woman who wrote in about Anakin, a kitten who went after any food -including any in trash - even though he would been wormed. Last summer I adopted a shelter cat that came with tapeworms. He had a ravenous appetite. Once the tapeworms were cleared up, he continued to gorge on food for 2 more months. He now eats normally. I think cats that have experienced food deprivation may need a while to trust that there will always be food available, and that it is ok to eat normally. Ms. R

Thanks for the note Ms. R! Simba

Dear Simba,
We have four cats, 3 girls 1 boy. (from 3 to 12-years-old) years (all are spayed or neutered). The eldest female was declawed because of some behavior problems. She was adopted from the streets at ~7 months and is very high strung. She is no longer aggressive and generally ignores the other cats. The youngest, the male, is a well behaved cat, he is very affectionate with us and good with two of his sisters (playing and mutually washing, etc). However, he and his eldest sister do not get along. In the middle of the night when we are asleep, he will stalk and corner her. Often, he will do this when she is at her food bowl. This leads her to panic and often defecate or urinate near her food dish. The male knows this is unacceptable. When he does it while we are awake and see it happen, he is punished, often separated and placed in another room by himself for a period of time. And yet, he continues to exhibit this behavior. Is this dominance problem or are there any other causes. Is there anything we can do, apart from isolating the young cat to break this behavior? - Concerned & Frustrated

Dear Concerned & Frustrated,
I do not envy your situation. Your younger cat may be picking up on the anxiety of the older cat, they may have had a confrontation prior to the eldest being declawed or some other type of trauma. When you see the aggressive behavior punish him immediately and be sure that your cat does not associate you with the punishment. Using a water squirt gun will have the cat associate the punishment with the action and not with you. If your cat sees you punish him, what he learns is not to avoid the behavior, but to avoid the behavior in front of you. If instead you just separate the cats you are not addressing the core problem, which is the relationship between your youngster and the emotionally scarred cat. The problems will not go away, they will be postponed.

I recommend taking your older cat to your veterinarian. He or she can prescribe anti-anxiety medications that will reduce her anxiety. This may in turn reduce any signals your older cat is sending the aggressive male and may lead to less conflict. Simba

Dear Simba,
I have two cats named Zeus(male) and Hera (female) and my neighbor has a cat named Inky(female). Inky was not taken very good care of so he comes over and eats out of cat's bowl. After feeling sorry for in Inky my family decided to star taking care of her. However, my cats bully Inky around! Zues does not attack her, but he stalks and stares at her. They often make long howling meows. Hera stalks in key, often tries to attack Inky, hisses at her and also makes that long howling meow and screaming meows. Inky just runs from them.

Why are my cats doing this to Inky? How do I train them to like Inky? Why is Hera more aggressive than Zeus? Brandon

Dear Brandon,
As you know from reading the letters below, cats can be quite peculiar and territorial at times.

I think there are several reasons your cats do not yet like Inky. One is that she is not family. Inky does not live with you and your family and because of that she has not had the opportunity to bond with you guys. Zeus & Hera likely view Inky as a vagrant that wanders over and eats their food. Naturally, they see her as a threat. As for why Hera is more aggressive than Zeus, I do not know.

You can train your cats to be nicer to Inky by reinforcing the point that Inky is a friend. Feed Inky from a different bowl. Let your cats become accustomed to seeing Inky eat without seeing Inky eat food from their bowl. As time passes, slowly bring the bowls closer. Also, make it a point to pay attention to all your cats when they are inside. Do not dote on Inky at Zeus' or Hera's expense. Give the kitties treats when they behave and discipline them when they do not. The most important thing is to have your cats together in a room and let them experience each other in a non-threatening way. While there are better introduction methods these are the best at this advanced stage in their acquaintance. Keep me posted. Simba

Cat Bites Other Cat

Dear Simba,
I have 3 cats, Beethoven (7-years-old), Dinker (6-months-old), and Barry (8-years-old); all of them are males. For the past few months, Barry has been "attacking" the other two. He jumps on their backs, bites down on the back of their neck, and makes a low growling and howling sound. I know that this is how cats mate, but Barry has been fixed for 7 years. I took him to the vet and they checked to make sure that he was fixed properly and told me that maybe it was a dominance problem. Barry loves the other cats (constantly washes and plays with them) and does not appear to be trying to hurt them. The other cats usually do not try to get away, yet this behavior still bothers me.

Are my other cats being violated or hurt in some way? I do not know what to do. When I yell at him to stop he completely ignores me and I have to push him off (hard) because he will not respond to a slap on the hindquarters or even me trying to pick him up; he fights with all his might to remain where he is. Please help. Erin

Dear Erin,
The situation reminds me of the lyrics "no victim no crime." If Dinker and Beethoven are not upset and are in no way hurt, then everything should be fine. Cats love to play and pounce on each other. They are just having fun. However, if the behavior bothers you and you want to stop it, try using a spray bottle. Squirt Barry while he is attacking,, he should run off. Also, try not to yell at him or slap him. The yelling will only reduce your authority in instances you need it and the slapping is just not good for either of you. Keep me posted. Simba

Hi, Simba!
I have 3 cats: Cheena (7-years-old), Obie-Wan (1-year-old) and "Ling" (6-months-old). "Ling" is a terror! She terrorizes Cheena and Obie-Wan. Both cats have try to be nice to her by licking her ears, tail, face, etc.. she will let it happen until she is tired of it and starts to bite or scratch them. Cheena now has an eye infection and Obie-Wan a bitten ear. Also, she will bite/scratch me when I try to hold her. I keeping saying "NO" very loud and sometimes I get so frustrated, I spank her and chase her nonstop up and down the house. I will then punish her by locking her in the bathroom for one hour or so. I feel so bad afterwards but I do not know what to do. Is there a reason why she is always so defensive? We have had her since she was 5-weeks-old and have gotten so attached to her even though she is making it hard for Cheena and Obie-Wan and us to live with her. Sincerely, Frustrated in Brooklyn.

Dear Frustrated in Brooklyn,
Ling thinks you are playing with her when you chase her around the house. Best thing to do is to ensure that Ling has plenty of toys and cat furniture on which to play and jump on. She has a lot of energy at 6 months and needs an outlet. As for her scratching and biting, this may be due to her rearing. Cats that were born and reared as strays for their first few weeks tend to take longer adjusting to people and other cats. Be firm in your discipline and try using a water bottle to discourage bad behavior. Also, do not spank her, that accomplishes nothing other than getting her to fear you, plus it makes you feel bad. As for her scratching, check out Claws!. Be gentle and patient and let me know how things go. Simba

Dear Simba,
Rascal, my kitten is 5 1/2 months-old and tonight he made some funny noises. I first thought he was chewing on something hat was stuck in his month. I tried to see what he had, but he would not let me get near his mouth. I then realized that he did not have anything and that it was he that was making the clicking noise. It was as if he could not control himself. When I tried to pet him he got mad, especially when I touched his behind. What was going on? After he stopped, he became aggressive, he started biting me, breaking my skin in the process. He bites often but does not bite hard enough to make me bleed! I put him in the bathroom so that he can calm down, he usually calms down after 4 minutes in the bathroom alone. I call it his time out. Do you think that is a good technique to calm him down? MJ

Dear MJ,
Rascal's behavior is odd. It is quite that his clicking was nothing at all or just an isolated incident. At the same time, this involuntary behavior followed by aggression could indicate some neurological damage. Watch out for symptoms like muscular weakness, poor coordination, circling, seizures or twitching. If you observe anything out of the ordinary have him checked out.

As for using a 'Time-Out', great idea. I will recommend to other readers. Simba

How to Handle Feuding Cats

Dear Simba,
cat scratch postUltimate Scratcher
I have two 3-year-old cats names Dezzie and Lucy. They have been together since they were born and have always gotten along very well...until recently that is. About 2 weeks ago they got into a huge fight. I let is pass and thought they just got mad at each other for something. Since then the cats will not go around each other at all. If Dezzie sees Lucy she will automatically run and hide from her and will not come out unless I go to where she is and sweet talk her. If they come in contact with each other, Dezzie will hiss and growl at Lucy and then Lucy will attack her and they start fighting, Dezzie ends up going and hiding somewhere and Lucy just prances around and starts to love on my husband again. I do not know what is wrong with them. I had them both spayed, so I know it is not because they are in heat. When they are apart they are both very friendly toward my husband and me but when they are together the tense all up and Dezzie will growl and try to run away and then Lucy will chase her.

One incident that happened about a week ago is this...They starting fighting and I ran in to see what was going on, Lucy had Dezzie pinned down biting her neck and Dezzie got scared and used the bathroom all over everything, since that day, Dezzie wants absolutely nothing to do with Lucy. Sure I could give one up, but I have no children and they are my babies, and I do not want to get rid of either of them. I can not understand why they act this way when never before have they showed so much aggression toward one another. What can I do? :o( Concerned Mary

Dear Concerned Mary,
Does not sound like a fun situation. The good news is that this can be corrected. I recommend that you reintroduce the cats to each other. What you want to do is restore Dezzie's sense of safety and create an environment where both cats are loved with each other present. Petting a cat after bad behavior only reinforces it. So here it goes:

  • Place Lucy in a room all to herself.
  • Let Dezzie sniff and familiarize herself with Lucy from outside the door.
  • Go into Lucy's room and give her love and attention
  • Do the same for Dezzie, outside the room.
  • Be sure to let them hear you being affectionate with them.
  • After 2-3 days let Lucy & Dezzie be in the same room together.
  • You hold one cat
  • Your husband holds the other cat
  • Give the cats affection & treats if they behave.
  • Immediately punish any bad behavior (spray the offending cat with water and place her in a confined area for 15-20 minutes)
A couple of sessions like this will make the cats comfortable with each other and will hopefully restore some order around the house. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
I recently adopted a 7-week-old kitten, he is absolutely adorable!
weight management for kittens so that your cat does not get fat
Cat Water Fountain
However, my 6-year-old cat does not feel that way.I have kept them apart so far. The older cat has sniffed under the door and hissed at the kitten. I am afraid if I put them together, the kitten will get hurt. What should I do? Michael

Dear Michael,
You are doing the right thing in keeping them apart so that they get to know each other. Try placing treats or other goodies in and around the door so that your resident cat builds positive associations with the new kitten. Pet the older cat and continue to give your love and affection. Give it a couple of days and do a controlled introduction. Check out the letters below for additional tips. Simba

Gina writes that the kitten is doing a lot better. He comes out as soon as she walks in the room and is exploring the other rooms every now and then.

Hi Simba-
I have a male cat that I adopted from the streets 5 years ago. He is spayed and de-clawed. he is never been overly affectionate, but has always let me hold him / pick him up. Two months ago, I adopted another cat from the street. I think she is 6-months-old and is not de-clawed. My male cat hates her. He spends all his time hissing at her. His behavior is now directed at me. I can no longer pick up my male cat without him biting me. I am beside myself because I love him. Have I done the wrong thing in bringing another cat into the house? What should I do? Thank you very much! Krissy S.

Dear Krissy S.,
You have not done wrong in brining in the new cat. There were some ways we could have made the transition easier, but it is ok (see Helping New Cats). What you need to do is rebuild the relationship. This will take time so be patient.

  • Set time aside for just you and your older cat (keep the little one in its own room during these moments).
  • Play with him, spend time with just him (use a teaser, paper balls, etc.).
  • As you progress, bring in the new kitten, but pay attention to the older cat when the little gal is in the room.
  • Give them both treats (tuna or tuna or tuna-flavored kitten food are great!) or pet them both (the older one first) when they behave well
  • Cease all petting to the older cat when he hisses or bites.
The main thing is to let the older cat know that he is still special. Cats have very delicate feelings and are not keen on change. Keep me posted. Simba

I wrote to you asking about my two cats, Ripley and Angel going into heat. I now have yet another problem. The mother, sister and two kittens do not recognize each other. They resent the 2 new ones coming near me. And the mother is constantly hissing at them. Second, I am not sure that the mother or the other cat is eating. With the mommy having been abused, I need to know she gets in the right kind of home. How can I do that? She is also pregnant with an inbred litter. I have scheduled an appointment to have the litter terminated and her spayed. Is that necessary? Adam

Dear Adam,
It is natural for cats that have been separated to not recognize each other. Be gentle in your introducing them to each other (check out the letters below for tips). I would certainly agree with you that having the mother spayed is a good thing. As to whether to do this now (terminating the pregnancy) or later, is a very difficult call to make. Discuss the issue with your vet, as he can determine the health and well being of the kittens and offer advice on their chances. To ensure the mommy cat gets a good home speak with your local ASPCA as they may have rehabilitation programs or contacts that care for abused animals. Keep me posted. Simba

Hi Simba,
We recently adopted a playful little male kitten, Hopper. We also have a 9-year-old male cat, Matisse, who has never been exposed to other cats. Matisse has somewhat adjusted to the new kitten, however, the new kitten constantly torments Matisse. I think he just wants to play but he is making Matisse extremely skittish and nervous. Is there anything we can do to discourage Hopper from tormenting Matisse?

Second problem, Hopper flings Matisse's poop out of the litter box. At first we thought Matisse was extremely upset and rebelling at first, but we have caught Hopper doing this. What can we do to stop this? Thanks! Lisa

Dear Lisa,
It might be a good idea to get Hopper his own litter box. He is likely seeing Matisse's poop as unwelcome intrusions to his litter. As for the tormenting of Matisse, it worries me. It is important that Hopper have things to distract him other than Matisse (toys, cat tree). Your playing with Hopper is also important, as this will reduce the entertainment burden on Matisse. Let me know how things go, and check out Behavior Problems for additional tips. Simba

Simba - Thanks for your response. You mentioned getting Hopper his own litter box -he does have his own litter box. He will go to Matisse's litter box and fling the poopies out...any ideas? A quandary indeed. Try moving Matisse's box to another location (alert Matisse to the move, of course). If you catch Hopper in the act spray him with water and loudly and firmly say "no" to him. I hope this helps, Simba

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