Dealing with cats’ redirected aggression

angry cat

Redirected aggression is when your cat is frightened or upset about something and then takes it out on an innocent party.

This commonly can happen if your cat sees another cat or animal outside a window and then gets upset and ready to fight. The other cat in the household just walks into the room, and the angry cat attacks him.

This can set up a scenario that whenever the two cats see each other they fight, even though they were best friends before.

What should the owner do?

Do not go near the upset cat. He may become very aggressive with you, and people have ended up in the emergency room when their cat attacks them.

If two cats are fighting, do not get your hands or feet near them. You can try throwing a blanket on them or using a broom. Thick gloves may be needed to separate them.

Use extreme caution. After an episode like this happens, sometimes the cats will continue to attack each other whenever they see each other.

Next steps

Keep the cats separate for a period of time, which could be days.

Keep litter boxes and food dishes in the separate rooms with the cats. Slowly reintroduce them to each other when they are calm.

Try giving treats to both under a door. Play with a toy under a door where they are in opposite rooms. Don’t rush it.

You can then put one cat in a crate in a room with the other cat walking free. Put treats around the carrier. You can then switch the cats in the crate.

Pheromone sprays from your vet may be helpful because they add an odor that is pleasant and recognizable to the cats. The idea is to have good things happen when the other cat is around, so the cat with redirected aggression forgets about the original upsetting incident.

If the problems persists, you may need to ask your veterinarian for sedatives for one or both of the cats.

Prevention

Since seeing cats outside is a common trigger for indoor cats, you may need to keep low windows covered for a while to prevent another incident. You can put cardboard on the bottom half of the window to prevent your cat from seeing out.

Another tip to get your cats from jumping onto the windowsill is to use sticky tape on the sill. Cats don’t like the feeling of sticky tape and will stop jumping up to sit in that area.

Consider keeping outdoor lights turned off at night so your cat can’t see other critters in the yard. You can also equip your yard with motion detector alarms or sprinklers to keep neighborhood cats or other animals away from your windows.

Take it slow

Remember that this is redirected aggression.

Your cat is not really mad at you or the other cat in the house, but a trigger has caused them to blame their fear and anger on others. This can be a minor thing, but it also can be serious.

An aggressive cat can be very dangerous, and you need to take this very seriously and be careful. Remember, it can be treated by gradually reintroducing the cats under more enjoyable circumstances without accidentally making the situation worse.

If your cat has a serious problem with redirected aggression, please call your veterinarian so they can help you through it. Sometimes, anti-anxiety medications, like Prozac, are needed to help a particularly anxious cat relax.