Playful Cat Agression(?)

by Jerry
(Traverse City MI)

Reader Question: Is My Female Cat Acting Too Aggressively?

We have three cats, two spayed declawed females, three years old. The smaller (8 & 11 lbs) seems much smarter, and the bigger one often mimicks her behavior, drinking from faucet in tub, etc.

Nine months ago we took in a male tiger that lost his mother at four days old & was dropper fed. He is 12.5 lbs, 1 year old, loves people, friendly, neutered, etc.

Whenever he enters the room the smaller female growls until he is out of site. This is occuring more often. They do not fight per se, but he enjoys seeking her out occasionaly and touching her lightly with a paw once or twice which gets a rise & hissing match going.

Is he just being young & playful or is their some behavior here we need to recognize?

Veterinarian Responds To Reader Question Regarding An Aggressive Cat


Excellent question. My experience with bottle-raised kittens is that they have often not learned how to appropriately respond to cues from other cats. When kittens spend their formative, early weeks with their mother and littermates, they get a crash course in cat communication, and if they act in a way that is not acceptable, they quickly feel the consequences. While your cat has learned to behave exceptionally well around people, he seems not to be heeding the “keep away” signals your female is so obviously sending out.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this situation escalated as your youngster matures and becomes more full of himself. Intervening now is a good idea. Give your female a secure resting place away from her “tormenter,” even going so far as providing her with her own food bowl, water, and litter box. Your goal is to separate the two of them so that this behavior doesn’t continue and isn’t reinforced. If your male sends out “I’m about to pounce signals” well before he does so, you could also try squirting him with a water bottle at that time.

You want him to associate his initial “I think I’ll go see if I can annoy her” thought with something unpleasant, but you have to be sure that this truly is his intention and don’t do anything that will make the female run as this could make matters worse rather than better.

Talk to your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist if the situation continues.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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