"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Aggressive Kitten

– Posted in: Aggression, Behavior Problems, Columns

Aggressive Kitten All Attitude and No Fun

We recently brought a cat into our house when we got him he was 5 weeks old he is now 8 month old very aggressive kitten. We got the cat fixed when he was 6 months old as advised from our veterinarian. The cat has a very dominant personality and attitude, we are trying to make the cat a normal house cat but this is very difficult due to the fact that the cat will strike out and bite and scratch members of the household even when the cat is laying on our lap and we are petting him. For no reason he wants to scratch and claw us almost like an attack what can we do?

A.H.

Dear A.H.,

There are a few reasons a cat might do this. Sometimes it’s a genetic predisposition, sometimes health but in your case I’m betting it’s the age you bought the kitten. Bringing a pup or kitten into a home at 5 weeks of age generally has its consequences. Both species need to spend more time then that with their mothers to learn things like exerting self-control as in bite and/or claw inhibition. They also learn about hierarchy. Some will find themselves able to assert themselves over some littermates and not others and all will learn about boundaries and consequences from over zealous interaction with their mothers. Most mothers are pretty tolerant but they send the message “You may win some but you will lose some, so think before you act.”

When we get the kitten or puppy after a mother has done her work they’re better equipped with the understanding that good manners never go out of style. Kittens that don’t get this time and the lessons that go along outside of the aggressive behaviour can suffer from some neurotic behaviour as well. Things like over attachment to a single person, separation anxiety and fear of strangers. Additionally, in cases where it is, or ends up being a multi cat or dog household there’s a greater chance of aggression as well, also because they never fully developed their inter-species socialization skills.

Generally speaking if it’s a good breeder they don’t sell until the kittens are around 12 weeks of age. By good breeder I mean someone that is making sure the kittens are being well socialized amongst their own and other species including being handled by many people. This being more the exception then the rule with both dog and cat breeders the 8 week mark is closer to an ideal. Anyone selling puppies or kittens at 5 weeks is more of a “greeder” then a breeder in my experience.

Technically speaking, to a certain extent a human can teach the same lessons mom and littermates might but the average person doesn’t take on a parenting role with their puppy or kitten. We often embrace more of the role of a permissive grand parenting and there is far more latitude as to behaviour that couldn’t be tolerated on a day-to-day basis. Behaviour is often well meaning but incorrectly written off as, “She’s a puppy/kitten!” Whereas their real mothers would be provide attitude adjustments as needed for inappropriate behaviour precisely because, “She’s a puppy/kitten!” and to do anything else will produce a puppy/kitten that struggles with the realities of the world that exists beyond being a puppy or a kitten.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

4 Comments… add one
Julie Sizemore

I have raised a kitten that washed up in a mud hole after some bad storms , it was maybe 1 to 3 days old still had a little of the umbilical cord.My question is he’s 4 months old now and a sweet kitten to me but everybody else at times he can be very aggressive toward them and then again he can be sweet to them why is this and what can I do to change this aggressiveness? Sincerely julie Sizemore

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Julie,

Can you provide some details. Flesh out what you mean by “very aggressive”. What’s he actually doing? Also, what has been tried as a response to his unwanted aggression? Are there any other animals in the home? How does he interact with them?

John

Dionna

I recently got a kitten for my other kitten who was very lonely. The lady who had the kitten said she was very sweet and was liter box trained. When I got the kitten home he hissed and yelled at my other kitten (both being around 8 weeks of age) and will remain on opposite sides of the from never going near my original kitten. When I brought my dogs in the new kitten didn’t show aggression at all instead created the dog with purring and love but once my kitten comes into sight she will hiss and growl at him. I tried to bring my room mates kitten into the mix since he has such an outgoing personally ( 11 weeks of age). When he tried to play with the new kitten she growled and screamed at him like she was being attacked. What do I do about this? Give either a couple of days or does she need to go to a one animal family or a family with only dogs?

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Dionna,

Normally things settle down. Just take it slower. Maybe but them in crates they can see through and keep them far enough apart to keep an over reaction from happening and then slowly move them closer together.

John

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