Is Your Cat Biting or Scratching You?
Sometimes cats will exhibit aggressive behavior toward their owners. For example, have you ever noticed that sometimes when you pet your cat he or she will sit purring calmly and allow it and then suddenly your cat seems to become angry and snap or hiss at you?
Your cat isn't trying to be mean, but since he or she can't speak, this is just your cat's way of letting you know that he or she has had enough petting for the moment. If your cat shows this sort of behavior stop petting him or her immediately. Your cat is only trying to communicate with you the only way he or she knows how.
Cats all have different personalities and some like to be petted more than others. If you have a cat that really doesn't like to be petted much then you should respect that wish.
Does Your Cat Bite Your Fingers
Here is another common example of cat aggression: does your cat like to bite or chew on your fingers? One of mine does. I often have to hide my hands under the covers at night to prevent her from biting my hands. She seems to think it is some sort of a game and she isn't trying to hurt me (despite that she bites quite hard).
By watching the way that cats interact with one another (especially cats that get along) you can learn a lot about the social behaviors of cats.
If you watch cats playing with each other they will often bite one another. It doesn't seem to hurt them either. This is due to their layer of fur. I think that when cats bite us (at least when they are playing) that they don't realize that without the layer of fur that the bites really hurt.
One way to prevent this sort of behavior is not to play hand games with your cat or kitten. Often people start these types of games with their cats and then the cat doesn't realize when it is all right to play with their owners hands and when it isn't.
I got my little biting cat when she was already 10 months old. She was a stray that I started feeding and then brought in to live with me. I don't know what sort of background she had and what sort of hand games she may have played as a small kitten with her previous owner. However, I do know that she's been doing this biting thing since the day I met her.
My father also took in a stray cat that exhibits the same biting behavior. It is possible that this play biting behavior isn't learned by playing hand games with humans, but may just be a natural play-type behavior of cats (as mentioned above). This might explain why cats revert to this behavior after they have been on their own for awhile.
To try to curb this biting behavior from your cat you should firmly tell your cat no and then attempt to put your hands out of site (but not in such a way that your cat thinks it is still part of the game).
Aggression at the Veterinarian's Office
Sometimes cats will become aggressive out of fear. I have another cat that acts just fine at home, but the minute he goes to the veterinarian's office it takes 2 people to hold him so the vet can examine him and they also have to put a muzzle on him.
Is he a bad cat? No, but he becomes frightened around strangers. If you know that your cat doesn't like strangers then go ahead and let him hide when you have company (however, you'll still have to take him to the vet).
Aggression Caused by Pain
Cats that are in pain may also become aggressive. Anytime that your cat undergoes a personality change from what is usual you should contact your veterinarian to rule out an underlying illness.