Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > How to Calm an Aggressive Cat: 6 Easy Tips

How to Calm an Aggressive Cat: 6 Easy Tips

close up of an angry cat

Aggression is not a personality trait, which means cats aren’t born aggressive. Generally, aggression is an expression of how they’re feeling, which means there is a cause and a solution. Despite knowing this, it can be distressing when you’re on the receiving end of an aggressive cat.

Methods to calm your cat might not be obvious, especially if your cat has never shown signs of aggression. To help you through this challenging situation, we’ve collected tips on calming an aggressive cat.


The 6 Tips on How to Calm an Aggressive Cat

1. Keep Your Distance

It’s important not to block your cat’s escape route, especially if they’ve just been aggressive. This allows them to escape or move away if they feel like you’re too close to them. It sounds easier said than done, but try to act calm. If you are scared, it may come across in your behavior, and your cat may see this as a threat, making you a target of their aggression.

2. Calm Response

You should never yell at your pet, but we understand that it might be your first reaction when you’re startled or scared (and it can be scary being faced with an aggressive cat). A calm approach always works best.

Your response to the situation is as important as the reason for the aggression because you are in a position to make the situation better or worse. Reacting with aggression will only increase your cat’s fear or anxiety, which will ultimately only worsen your cat’s aggression.

a domestic cat sitting on a sofa and looks at its owner
Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

3. Provide a Safe Space

Cat aggression might be a call for help, and a way to answer this call is to give them a place to relax and work through their stress. If you have other pets or small children, you can set aside a quiet room for your cat or even set up steps to a high shelf that your cat can call their own.

4. Herbs and Pheromones

Herbs are an all-natural solution to calm your cat. Herbs like silver vine, catnip, and valerian are helpful, and following the initial excitement, they can also be relaxing.

Alternatively, you can also talk to your vet about pheromones sold as sprays, wall plug-ins, wipes, or part of a cat collar. Pheromones can help reduce stress-related behavior and anxiety.

cat sniffing dried catnip
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

5. Positive Reinforcement

Once your cat has calmed down, how you approach them is important. Go in from the side, so it’s less threatening, and offer treats or catnip. Treats are a brilliant way to reinforce non-aggressive behavior. If it’s cat-on-cat aggression you’re dealing with, however, separate them, and when you reintroduce them, do it slowly with positive reinforcement.

6. Check With Your Veterinarian

If aggression is uncharacteristic for your cat, contact your vet. Sudden changes in behavior can be a sign that there’s an underlying health condition. If a cat is in pain, from an infection or arthritis, for example, it might react by lashing out aggressively. The earlier your vet detects a health issue, the better, and the sooner your cat can return to being its usual, happy self.

Orange cat's ear being checked by vet
Image Credit: YULIYA Shustik, Shutterstock


The 4 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Being Aggressive

There are several reasons your cat might be acting aggressively. If you want to tackle aggression, you must find the source. Aggression as a reaction to pain will have a different solution to a cat being stressed about a change to its environment, like a new pet.

1. Underlying Health Condition

We’ve touched on this already, but when a cat is angry, you might find it lashes out and not just at you. Other pets, other members of the family, or nearby objects can all become targets.

Signs your cat may be ill or injured are:
  • Changes to litter box habits (like urinating outside the box)
  • Coughing, sneezing, ocular or nasal discharge
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased grooming
  • Hiding more
  • Lack of interest in playing
  • Limp or hunched body position
  • Yowling/meowing incessantly

If you are worried that your cat’s aggression is due to a health condition, contact your vet for advice. They may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist if the diagnosis is related to a behavioral issue rather than a medical one.

2. Environment Problem

Whether your cat feels like they have no safe space to retreat to, or there’s been a change to its environment (like a new pet or baby), your cat might be struggling. If they’re missing you, try and make some time for them to feel less lonely or pushed out because of these changes. If they are lacking something to call their own, create a safe space for them to retreat to.

3. Fear

If a cat perceives a threat to its environment, it may react aggressively. This could be a person, another pet, a sound, or an object. They’re also more likely to act aggressively if they believe they cannot escape from the danger. Other signs your cat is feeling defensive are spitting, hissing, swatting, growling, scratching, or biting.

cat meowing
Image By: Stanimir G.Stoev, Shutterstock

4. Frustration

Cats may act violently and redirect their aggression if they cannot reach something. For example, an indoor cat may see an outdoor cat it would like to interact with. Frustration-related aggression can also occur over something simple, like not getting enough attention or food.

divider-catBe Proactive

Generally, negative behavior can be fixed if you catch it early enough. Getting your cat spayed or neutered can also help with aggression and lower the risk of some cancers.

Whether it’s a health risk or a behavioral problem, if you’re unsure how to keep your cat’s aggression at bay, don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced veterinarian.

vet holding the scottish fold cat in a veterinary clinic
Image By: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock



Keeping your cat calm momentarily can be a short-term solution if you don’t know the reason behind the aggression. That is why it is vital for you to be the best advocate for your cat. If you know them well enough, you’ll also have an idea of what might be bothering them. If you feel lost, remember you can always contact your vet for some advice!

Featured Image Credit: Mikhail Shustov, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets