Cat Aggression Caused by Petting or Overstimulation

Updated on April 16, 2023

It’s happened to a lot of us: we’re enjoying petting the family cat when all of a sudden it bites our hand and runs away. Overstimulation or pet aggression describes this phenomenon. It’s a normal thing for cats to do, but it can be frustrating and scary if you don’t know what to do about it.

Whence comes the origin of such conduct?

Cats are generally less sociable than dogs, and they don’t have nearly as much physical contact with members of their own species. They may sleep close together and engage in some grooming, but that’s about the extent of their physical contact. Petting isn’t something that naturally occurs to them. Overstimulation or pet-induced aggression is a controversial topic, with various hypotheses proposed to explain it.

The cat’s tolerance for human touch is low; after a while, the constant petting gets old. Cat turns and bites to express, “I’ve had enough of you!” This can be compared to how people act. A pat on the back is a nice gesture. If someone keeps patting you, you’ll eventually get annoyed and either move away or ask them to stop.

Aggression can occur if a sick or injured cat feels threatened by your touch or even the possibility of being touched in a painful area.

This is an attempt on the cat’s part to exert dominance over the situation by dictating the terms under which it will be petted.

How can hostility caused by petting be prevented?

You should take your cat in for a checkup at the vet. Check with your vet to see if your cat suffers from any conditions that could make petting him uncomfortable. Some examples of painful conditions include a toothache or an ear infection, or arthritis in the neck, back, or hip joints. If the cat is in pain, petting it may make it more afraid that you will injure it further.

Understand that not all cats enjoy being petted and cuddled. True individuality can only be found in a cat. Some felines thrive on attention from their human carers, taking the form of constant purring and purring in the palms of their hands. For various reasons, some people may prefer passive human interaction (like sitting on your lap) to active human interaction. Realize that your cat’s fundamental personality is not open to modification, and embrace him as he is.

It’s important to recognise the red flags. Some cat owners claim their feline suddenly turned around and bit them. But if the owner is perceptive enough, there are typically telltale signs:

It’s possible that the ears will shift
Twitching of the skin or the tail may occur.
Pupils might get bigger.
There could be a rumbling sound.
Potential for the claws to come out of their sheaths
The physical form may harden
When these symptoms present themselves, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and let the cat go. Before he gets anxious and bites, you can distract him by tossing a treat or toy off your lap. You shouldn’t lift him up to get him off your lap; instead, try distracting him with a toy or some food.

Try to guess the time. Once you’ve learned to recognise the red flags, you may begin timing how long you can pet your cat without causing distress. If the symptoms appear two minutes after you start caressing the cat, you shouldn’t pet it for longer than a minute and a half at the most. (Yet you should still be on the lookout for any dangers.)

Alter your cat-stroking techniques. Some felines may respond best to brief, gentle pats that mimic the grooming they could receive from another feline. Not all cats enjoy being petted all over. Some felines would much rather have a scratch between the ears or behind the chin. To avoid any unwanted attention, try petting only the face and cheeks with one finger. Cats usually just want to rub up against their human, so don’t worry about spending too much time handling them.

Please refrain from physically punishing the feline. In the event that your cat does turn and bite, physical punishment should be avoided lest it make him even more hostile. Please give the cat some room to retreat or escape. Cats aren’t like dogs in that they need human approval, thus scolding, shouting, or using any other form of punishment will have no effect on your cat.

Make use of the technique of counter conditioning. If your cat becomes aggressive when being petted, you may be able to calm him down by offering a treat for good behaviour. For instance, after petting your cat, you could give him a few pieces of cooked chicken or another treat he enjoys. If you want to avoid crossing his intolerance threshold, you should do this multiple times a day, but just for a short period of time each time. (Cease if your cat begins to exhibit signs of annoyance.) As time goes on, your cat may begin to associate the caressing with a positive experience (a food treat).

The amount of time spent playing should be increased.

Frustration from boredom can be a contributing factor to this excessive stimulation. If you have a cat, you should play with it every day. Keeping your cat busy and entertained can help keep frustration levels down. Since irritation is a common root of overstimulation aggression, it’s possible to overcome sensitivity threshold concerns by channelling the aggressive energy in a healthy way.





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