Tony Reeves

Medically Reviewed By

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant

Cats are gorgeous and irresistible. However, triggers such as anxiety, illness, past experiences, or stress may cause your cat to be aggressive towards you or other animals. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to make cats less anxious or fearful.

What Triggers Aggression in Cats?

Cat aggression is any hostile or violent behaviour intended to dominate or intimidate, and is a common behavioural problem in cats. Statistics estimate approximately 27% of cats relinquished to shelters are due to aggression problems as many cat owners don’t know what to do when their cats get aggressive.

Below are some triggers that may cause aggressive behaviour in cats:


When cats are in pain, they are likely to exhibit hostile behaviour. Diseases such as arthritis, dental disease, hyperthyroidism and central nervous system problems may trigger aggression, so it’s always prudent to have your cat examined by a professional.

Once illnesses are out of the question, the next step is to identify the cause and determine necessary intervening measures, preferably with a veterinarian.


Like humans, cats will respond differently to stress. Stress in cats may be triggered by fear, anxiety, or abuse. Underlying health issues may also cause aggression, so it’s always advisable to have your cat examined if you notice any signs of agitation.

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Aggression is a self-defence mechanism in cats. This may happen when a cat encounters an unfamiliar environment, person or an unpleasant experience such as a visit to the veterinarian. It’s advisable not to console an agitated cat as they may perceive this as a reward for their behaviour. The best way to deal with this kind of aggression is to identify and avoid situations that may trigger anxiety and fear.

Territory breach

Similar to their friends-dogs, cats are territory lovers. Once they establish their territory, they will do anything to defend it either from newly introduced pets or people.


A cat frustrated from seeing a stray cat, or after an altercation with another cat in the house may get aggressive towards those nearby. The best way to deal with this type of agitation is to avoid the identified triggers.

Symptoms of Aggression in Cats

A calm cat will ideally have their ears up, pupils normal and whiskers relaxed. Dilated pupils, ear flattened to the back, arched back, erect tail and raised hairs are signs of aggression. On the other hand, a fearful cat may express their fear by flattening their whiskers, closely wrapping or tucking their tail under the body, and by flattening the ears.

A rule of thumb is not to touch, pet, punish, or attempt to reassure an aggressive cat.

Are There Cat Breeds More Prone to Exhibiting Aggressive Behaviour?

Some breeds are known to be mean, while others are popular for being super-friendly, cuddly and cute. While they might be a little too much for some, feistier cats are a popular choice for owners looking for independent and sassy companions. That said, some of the breeds known for their attitude include:

  • Siamese
  • Cymric
  • Sphynx
  • Bombay
  • Bengal
  • Manx
  • Scottish fold
  • Pixie Bob
  • Egyptian Mau
  • American wirehair
  • Korat
  • Singapura

However, this isn’t to imply that these cats can’t make wonderful companions. If you can dedicate your time, train them well and give them (or deny) the attention they need (or don’t), the benefits can be quite rewarding.

How to Calm an Aggressive Cat

Cat owners should never treat aggression lightly. If left unmanaged, this problem may build up and escalate, causing the cat to inflict harm to those close. Cat scratches can also lead to serious infections if left untreated. Furthermore, it’s not always a pleasant experience having a pet that gets aggressive especially if you have a kid, or regularly entertain guests.

Below are interventions you can take if you notice your cat resorting to aggressive behaviour:

Provide a safe space

Cats may exhibit aggression as a call for help. Just like us, they also need to relax and have some alone time. Try providing a private room or cat condo for your feline companion to see 

whether the aggressive pattern changes.

Provide ways for your cat to exert energy

Cat aggression may be caused by a build-up of energy. Offering a way to relieve this pressure by providing extra playtimes, climbing perches, or cat trees may help calm your companion’s nerves and prevent aggressive behaviour.

Try products designed to treat or manage aggressive behaviours in cats

Several products including calming diffusers and sprays, hops, chamomile, valerian root, catnip, and cat tinctures have shown to induce calming, and relaxing effects in aggressive cats.

Always remember to consult with your veterinarian as they can spot an underlying issue you might not be able to identify. If all the above measures fail, it’s best to pay a visit to an animal behaviourist. These are trained professionals in animal health and can help identify aggression triggers and advise you on specific measures you can take to treat your aggressive cat.

CBD Oil for Cats

CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not induce a euphoric state. CBD oil can either be extracted from the marijuana plant or the hemp plant. The only difference between these two sources lies in the levels of THC.

While the hemp plant has a high CBD and a low THC concentration, the marijuana plant is known and loved for its high THC and low CBD. For this reason, hemp-derived CBD is not only the legal but also the safe option when it comes to cats and other pets. This is an important distinction to note while looking for CBD oil for your cat as THC can be harmful to your pet.

Is Hemp seed oil the same as CBD oil?

Although both are from the same plant and neither produces psychoactive effects, these two are different. Hemp seed oil, as the name implies, is extracted from pressed seeds and does not contain CBD. CBD oil, on the other hand, is derived from the hemp plant flowers, leaves and stalks which contain high levels of CBD. When deciding on the best CBD oil for your pet, always opt for CBD products with an indicated amount of CBD.

Popular types of CBD products for cats 

CBD oil for cats

CBD oil for cats as suggested by the name is an oil tincture, containing CBD. It comes in pet-friendly aroma that makes it more appealing to your cat. Different concentrations are available to suit your cat’s size and weight. The CBD oil for cats has non-detectable amounts of THC and no additional terpenes.

CBD cat treats 

Tasty, crunchy, and with pet-friendly flavors CBD cat treats make a great snack. Cat treats are generally made of meat combinations mixed with vegetables, cereals, fats, oils, or other (safe) additives. CBD cat treats include all these tasty ingredients plus some CBD.

Different ways of giving CBD to aggressive cats

Cats can be very picky, aggressive cats even more so. While some will easily lick a drop of CBD oil off your finger, some will only take the CBD oil when added to food or treats. It is up to you as an owner to decide the best way to give CBD to your cat. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Mix it with their favourite food – just a couple of drops in the wet cat food is enough
  • Drip in their water
  • Leave CBD infused treats in a familiar place, where they will feel safe to eat it.

How Much CBD Can I Give to My Cat?

 Plenty of experimentation is required here to determine the best CBD oil dose for your cat.

Nevertheless, it’s always advisable for cat owners to consult with their veterinarian to establish the best CBD oil dosage and an effective schedule.

Parting words

Aggression in cats can be caused by many things. From a health condition to psychological needs. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to identify what is making your cat aggressive and experiment with different tactics until you find what helps calm down your cat. 

If you decide to give your aggressive cat CBD, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. Overall, CBD for cats comes in many forms and if the manufacturer adheres to the safety standards, you should not worry when giving it to your pets. 


David is our expert for all things concerning CBD and your four-legged friends. Animals often need special attention and care and that's David’s specialty, but he’s also an expert in all CBD topics, so whatever your question, he's happy to help.

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