While aggression in play can also be an issue between cat companions, it can also occur when the cat is playing with you or someone else in the family. If a person’s hands and arms get too close to the cat while playing, the cat may bite the person.
Redirected or Misdirected Aggression in Cats
What is happening in the scenario described above is that your cat is redirecting his pent-up energy which also has another source. That energy could be fear, excitement, a desire to defend territory, pain, or even a desire to pursue prey. Cats that are otherwise friendly may attack people or other animals in the home if affected.
There are also some everyday situations and events that can trigger misdirected aggression in cats.
An indoor cat may also see or feel a cat or other rival animal outside, but not be able to reach it. Some things, the source of which it cannot identify, scare the cat. This is often a loud noise coming from the TV or the sound of something falling and crashing.
Misdirected aggression can create a cycle in a multicat family
When one cat in a household with multiple cats inappropriately engages in aggression, it can cause a domino effect, causing all the other cats to be on edge, defensive, and potentially aggressive. Alternatively, when a fearful cat constantly receives the outbursts of an excited cat, that cat may also experience severe stress.
How is misdirected aggression diagnosed in cats?
This type of aggression can be very difficult to diagnose. These attacks may occur immediately or even a few hours after an inciting incident. Sometimes an owner may be lucky enough to see a trigger happening and associate it with the resulting aggression, but this does not happen often.