Aggression, a feeling of anger which may result in hostile or violent behavior. We are no strangers to this, we’ve all felt it before. Normally, we minimize hostile behavior with communication and persuasion, but what should we do if we can’t? This is our story, on how we’ve learnt to stop violent outbursts and understand where the attention was lacking.
I adopted Lyra when he was about 3 months old, he was extremely hostile to us, hissing and on guard 24/7, watching us. After about 2 months, he was accustomed to his new human owners but still wary, and would attack me by lunging forward, aiming for my neck, if he was upset at something I did. As he is a Bengal, I understood that he is more instinctive and that may be the reason why he would aim for the neck. Additionally, Lyra is also a very needy cat, he would get upset and start biting me before I left for school, this biting worsened when I started working shifts as I was leaving at odd hours. As such, he could not track me and worries that I will not return. I spent hours researching on ways to stop these ill behaviors, and failed countless of times. After 1 year, this is the method that works best for him.
All cats have a cycle of “Hunt, Eat, Groom, Sleep” (Galaxy, N.D.). This cycle needs to be met for a cat to be well- adjusted. Some young cats are playful and crave stimulation. When it is not play time, you may be the only thing it sees moving and be mistaken as a play thing which sparks their excitement.
To stop a cat from viewing you as a prey, you will have to redirect it’s attention. Start by having a toy on hand with you, as a standby if you are being hunted. Once your cat targets you, wave the toy in front of it’s face, say ‘bite this instead’ and give it the toy, slowly but surely it will understand to target the toy rather than you. It may be tedious but trust me it will pay off.
After hunting, cats will prepare to kill and eat their prey in the wild, but for domesticated cats, they do not get the satisfaction of that. So, after each playtime, it is best to give them a reward to help them achieve satisfaction. Lyra’s go-to would be 1 liquid stick treat. I would recommend either 1 liquid stick treat or a few dry/ jerky treats, about 5-6 pieces.
After the cat is contented and satiated, it will move on to the grooming phase. In this phase, the cat proceeds to clean itself, just like a shower before bed time. You can help the cat, by brushing it to further aid with relaxation. For Lyra, he prefers for me not to disturb him.
The cat may choose to take a short nap, fall asleep completely for the night or even just laze awake. This is when the cat develops safety and security. Waking up from a uninterrupted nap is the best feeling in the world, it helps them feel safe knowing they will be unharmed.
This cycle will repeat itself forever. The most important part would be the conditioning of the hunt and the reward. A huge part of this, is you, the owner. Loving and providing attention to your pet is just the first step. Look out for non-verbal cues to further aid your bond with your pet. Hopefully, this will help you understand more about what your pet wants and needs from you to prevent ill behaviors. Feel free to ask me questions if you have any!