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  • Writer's pictureMandy Agre

How to Solve Cat Aggression in Five Steps

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

*Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies / products that I have found helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below.

When my fur baby first came into my life, I was working extremely long hours away from home. I felt horribly guilty for having to leave him by himself most of the day and tried to make up for it with extra play time when I was home. Every morning before work I got up early so we could play, snuggle, eat breakfast together, and play some more before I had to leave for the day. When I got home at night, we would play for almost an hour before dinner and have another snuggle sesh while we watched a movie together. Before bed, we played again until he was tired out and ready to curl up on my shoulder for the night. He was perfect.

Once Covid hit, I was suddenly home all the time. Scout and I still played, but we fell out of our usual routine and played a bit less. I slept in more, stayed in my pajamas all day, and Scout spent most of his time sleeping in my lap as I worked.

Maybe a month into our new normal, Scout started lunging at me, grabbing on with his claws and digging in with his teeth! I didn’t understand where this was coming from – I was just making the bed, or washing my face, or standing in front of the TV. I started carrying a spray bottle with me as I walked around my apartment just to snap him out of attack mode if I saw him lock his dilated eyes on me. I didn’t understand how my sweet, little kitten had suddenly become this viscous jungle cat.

I started Googling cat aggression and read that causes may include:

  • Pain

  • Fear

  • Hormones

  • Territorialism or Competition

None of these seemed to apply to Scout. His vet declared him the picture of health and he was previously neutered so nothing seemed to be causing him pain or sickness and his hormones were normal. He did have some anxiety and was pretty skittish, but that didn’t quite seem the same as fear – and the aggressive outbursts didn’t really seem to make sense as a response. There were also no other animals at the time to make him territorial or competitive.

I turned to YouTube, looking for “what to do if your cat is behaving aggressively.” I tried so many things, but the best disciplinary advice I found was to put him in timeout after an outburst by putting him in a separate room by himself so he can cool down and realize that this behavior means separation from mom. This did work, although you could tell when he came out he was still pissed off, just keeping it to himself. But I didn’t want to discipline him. I didn’t just want a well-behaved cat. I wanted a happy cat.

Instead of doing any further research on how to stop aggressive cat behavior, I started researching how to help him live his best life. I learned that Siamese cats have a ton of energy, they need a lot of playtime and exercise, and they are highly intelligent – needing a lot of mental stimulation. Without all of this, they become bored, mischievous, frustrated, and can even become aggressive.

Here are five things I did to give my cat his best life, that completely ended his aggressive behavior:

1. Increase Play Time

I recognized I wasn’t playing with him as much as I used to, so I bought several new toys and made a point to play more. I read that cats need rigid routines, so I started playing with him at specific times every day – early in the morning, after work, and before bed, just like we used to.

One of Scout’s favorite toys is a nerf gun. He loves to chase, hunt, and fetch, so the nerf gun created a perfect combination for us. I shoot the darts in various directions from across the room into a closet or where they will fall behind the bed, so he really has to hunt and find them, and then I wait for him to bring each of them back to me. (*If you decide to get your cat a nerf gun, just watch them closely so they don’t eat the darts, and don’t leave the darts out where they can access it when you’re not playing – even if the darts are already loaded in the gun.)

Scout also loves wand toys. He loves to use my bed as a trampoline, doing back flips as he leaps to catch the feather at the end of the ribbon. Or hiding under the blankets so he can surprise attack the toy.

People think cats are low maintenance animals, but they need play time, just like dogs – especially if you’re a single-cat household and they don’t have a playmate to run around and wrestle with.

2. Increase Exercise

While you might be able to get a lot of your kitty’s energy out with physically active games, your cat may still have more energy to burn at the end of the night – does your cat get the zoomies at 3am!?

I ordered Scout an exercise wheel and trained him to run on it whenever he looked like he was ready to pounce at me, teaching him a healthier outlet for his negative emotions. As soon as I saw him go into pounce mode I would say, “let’s go on your wheel!” and run in that direction. He would chase me to it and jump on as I started spinning it. Soon he started doing this on his own – suddenly running away from me to sprint on the wheel for a bit before returning to lie down next to me.

Besides being a good anger management tool, he loves running on his wheel just for fun. He usually does a short jog before breakfast and dinner, and works out while I’m sleeping too.

3. Increase Mental Stimulation

I read that Siamese cats are trainable and enjoy learning tricks, just like a dog. So I decided to give it a shot. Using a training clicker, I started with sit, high-five, and shake, rewarding him with his favorite treats. We practiced for about five minutes every day until he really had it down, and then we started working on spin, lie down, and eventually roll over. He really seemed to enjoy these training sessions. They became a way for him to exercise his brain and bond with mom at the same time. We still do this on a daily basis.

4. Take Them Outside

Cats are meant to be outside – they’re predatory, wild animals. Because they are also prey and we love them, we as humans keep them inside to protect them from getting attacked by other animals or possibly hit by a car. But they love being out in the sun, exploring, climbing, and bird watching.

I started leash training Scout to take him out for some fresh air. We didn't go out every day, but on the weekends when the weather was nice, Scout and I would drive to my parents’ house to enjoy some sunshine. They had a massive backyard in the woods and I knew it would be a quiet, safe place for him to walk around. He had to have me in his sight at all times, but he absolutely loved crawling through the grass, sniffing around the trees, and jumping on giant boulders. Every night after Scout had spent time outside, he was completely relaxed. And on nights we hadn't spent time outside, he would often cry by the door - so I know he loved it!

Just like humans, cats need to get out of the house every now and then too. Staying inside every day, all day will make you feel trapped and a little crazy. I think we can all understand this after surviving Covid!

5. Give Them a Voice

In the summer of ’22, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a video of a cat, named Justin Bieber, pressing buttons to communicate with his human in English. I was so intrigued I became borderline obsessed. I spent two weeks obsessively searching and watching countless videos of all these cats and dogs pressing these buttons. My boyfriend thought it was nothing but a party trick and others politely smiled in the ‘oh God, she’s a little bit crazy’ kind of way when I showed them the videos and said I wanted to teach Scout how to do this. Maybe I was crazy, but I decided to go for it anyways and ordered my first set of buttons from Fluent Pet soon after.

This communication system, above all else has been life changing for Scout and for our household. He is so much happier now that he can tell me exactly what he’s thinking and I understand him. Because of Fluent Pet, I’ve learned some of Scout’s favorite things are practicing his tricks and being brushed, so we do a lot more of that than we used to. He asks to go outside every day – sometimes we go out for adventures, but sometimes we sit out on the balcony or we roam the halls throughout the apartment building and he’s happy with that too. He tells me when he wants to be held or pet, when he’s hungry or when he wants to play. He can even tell me when he’s hurting.

It’s pretty rare that he uses this button, but Scout understands the word “ouch.” A few months ago, he was repeatedly pressing it all afternoon. I checked him over every time – his paws, his ears, in his mouth; I felt his belly and all down his spine. I almost took him to the vet to check for something going on internally, but finally I took his collar off and realized there was a small piece of plastic sticking out from the buckle, poking into his neck! I clipped that off and put the collar back on – Scout didn’t say “ouch” again after that. For this reason alone, I highly recommend everyone get Fluent Pet.

Cats are complex, emotional, and intelligent creatures. Giving them a tool to communicate in your language and teaching them to share their thoughts will strengthen your bond, provide them with mental stimulation, and reduce any frustration they may be feeling.

Two years ago Scout was lashing out at me, sometimes multiple times a day, for reasons I couldn’t understand. I was beyond frustrated, at my wit’s end, and covered in Band-Aids. By shifting my focus from trying to discipline Scout for his bad temper to just trying to give him the absolute best life possible, I successfully ended his aggressive behavior.

If you’re tired of buying Band-Aids in bulk, tired of drenching your cat, putting them in time out, and running out of options because nothing is working or even making sense at this point, try some of these methods:

  • Increase their playtime

  • Increase physical exercise

  • Provide more mental stimulation

  • Take them outside for some fresh air

  • Teach them to communicate with you in your language

By doing these five things, you can help your cat resolve their frustrations and form a stronger bond with them, giving both you and your kitty a better, happier life.

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