Feline aggression is one of those really confusing things to unravel. It has so many possible causes and very few ways to pick them apart to find the right one.
It’s all about instinct. Aggression could be fear, stress, territorial disputes… or a sign of an underlying pain or illness. Cats instinctively know that sickness is weakness is danger. They will do anything and everything to avoid displaying that weakness and putting themselves in perceived danger. This means hiding symptoms, as well as using aggression to keep others at bay.
Selene, one of our cats, recently became extremely aggressive toward her brother. Because the timing was coincident with a cat coming around and making her territorially aggressive as well, the theory was that she was showing displaced aggression. However, my husband and I were convinced it was more than that. A test showed minor indications of infection, but further tests didn’t culture anything. We got the Comfort Zone diffuser with Feliway feline facial pheremones, which are used to comfort and calm cats. It definitely helped, but the situation continued to deteriorate.
We brought Selene back to the vet and they were kind enough to fit us in at the last minute with their behavioral specialist. Long story short, she has joint troubles (possibly arthritic) and was having constipation issues. Now she’s on glucosamine and chondroitin for the joint troubles and a medicine for the constipation. There’s still some aggression, but it’s very noticeably better and less frequent.
It’s often been said that, man’s assumption to the contrary, cats have not yet been domesticated. I think this is one of the more prominent indications of this. Things would be so much easier if cats would just display their symptoms instead of trying to hide them!
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