Everyone has heard about the dangers of dog bites and have seen ads and articles about how to avoid dog attacks. While dog attacks are a serious concern, there aren't nearly enough public service announcements about cat aggression? Although, cats attacking people have become a viral video obsession, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), cat aggression should be taken just as seriously as dog bites, if not more.
Don't believe that cats attacks are dangerous? Just watch the video posted on the Michigan Law Firm's blog yesterday. The scratches and bites that Mr. Woodward received from his pet cat-not a wild cat-were serious enough to require stitches.
In fact, the ASPCA says that cat bites and scratches can inflict severe lacerations and can become easily infected. They advise people to be aware of the subtle body language that cat's normally display and help identify the differences between offensive and defensive postures.
Offensive Cat Postures
If a cat takes one of these postures, it's a good idea to keep distance from it as it may be gearing up to attack.
- A straight-legged upright stance.
- Stiffened rear legs, with the rear end raised and the back sloped downward toward the head.
- Tail is stiff and lowered or held straight down to the ground.
- Direct stare.
- Upright ears, rotated slightly forward.
- Raised hackles including fur on the tail.
- Small (constricted) pupils.
- Directly facing opponent, possibly moving toward him.
- Growling, howling, or yowling.
Defensive Cat Postures
If a cat assumes one of these postures, it may be feeling threatened or scared. Again, it's best to leave cats alone when they are displaying these behaviors.
- Tucked head.
- Tail curved around the body and tucked in.
- Eyes wide open with large, dialated pupils.
- Ears flattened sideways or backward on the head.
- Raised hackles.
- In an anxious cat, whiskers might be retracted. In a fearful cat, whiskers might fan out and forward to assess distance between them self and danger.
- Not facing the opponent, usually turned sideways.
- Open-mouthed hissing or spitting.
- Might deliver quick strikes with front paws, claws out.
Other Aggressive Cat Signs
Be mindful of a potential turn in behavior if a cat starts to do one or more of the following.
- Swatting, striking with paws.
- Growling, shrieking.
- Cats will roll on to their side or back while exposing their teeth and claws in preparation for an all out attack.
Aggressive Behavior Triggers
These aggressive cat behaviors can be triggered if a cat feels the need to protect its territory, feels fear, if the cat is displaying maternal instincts, or even if a human plays too roughly, tries to pick them up, or pets them in a way they do not like. The ASPCA warns those who are in the vicinity of a possibly aggressive cat to be mindful that cats can be also triggered by the smell of another cat(s), hearing high pitch noises, and if they are being antagonized by a dog or other pets. Additional triggers that may lead to offensive behaviors is if major changes occur within the cat’s home and when someone intervenes in a cat fight.
If such behaviors start to arise or are already apparent within a cat, it is advised that a professional is called to best determine the next steps to take with the feline. Treatments are offered and a record establishing the behavior patterns of the cat should always be kept on file. And of course in the case of a cat attack, especially if the cat is not domesticated, humans should immediately seek medical treatment.
Cats are just as likely as dogs to viciously attack their owners as well as children and pets when they become agitated. Though the attacks occur seemingly for no reason and the injuries may seem negligible, cat attacks can cause the victim serious harm. If you or someone you know has been injured by a rabid animal or someone's pet, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Call us at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation. We can help you.