Common feline problem behaviours: Owner-directed aggression

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© The Author(s) 2019. Practical relevance: Aggression towards owners is a common behavioural problem in cats, particularly in cats that have been obtained from pet shops or other sources where there has been inadequate socialisation with people, and in those kept only indoors. Very often aggression is associated with a stress response and it may potentially lead to relinquishment and euthanasia of the cat. Therefore, preventing and treating owner-directed aggression has significant benefits for the welfare of the cat and the quality of the cat–owner bond. Aim: The objectives of this article are to highlight the characteristics of the most common types of feline aggression towards human family members and to describe, in a very practical way, the main treatment strategies. The article is aimed at general practitioners; for severe cases of aggression and/or cases involving feral cats, referral to a specialist behaviourist is recommended. Clinical challenges: Veterinarians and behaviourists are not always able to witness the aggressive behaviour of the cat and therefore a detailed and accurate interview, as well as the use of complementary tools such as video recording, is essential to reach a diagnosis. Evidence base: This review draws on evidence from an extensive body of published literature as well as the authors’ clinical experience and own research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
JournalJournal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Aggression
  • behaviour
  • cat–owner bond
  • owner-directed aggression


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