How to Deal With an Angry or Moody Cat

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You come home and you know that something is amiss. Your apartment looks like a whirlwind tore through it: papers are strewn all over the ground, pillows have been overturned, your potted plant is now sagging sadly on the floor, and long scratch marks grace your previously pristine doors.

Maybe that’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, but everyone who’s ever owned a cat knows what we’re saying. It sounds like you need to know how to deal with an angry or moody cat.

cat sneering wearing a bandana

It can be quite exasperating when this happens. You love your cat and you don’t want to see him acting aggressively, tearing things up, or lashing out and biting you.

You’re probably wondering if there is anything you can do to soothe that ferocious little feline and return him or her to calm. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways you can help an angry or moody cat find peace and calm again.

Beware of Behavioral or Medical Issues

According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Sciences, “Regardless of their cause, recognizing the signs that a cat is fearful or aggressive can help prevent injury to pets and people.”

Although aggression can be a typical cat behavior problem, it needs to be solved to make sure you and your family members, especially unsuspecting little ones, are safe around the cat.

Cornell explains that there are two types of issues leading to a cat’s moody behavior: aggression and fear.

  • “Signs of aggression include dilated pupils, ears flattened backward on the head, tail held erect with hairs raised, and an arched back.
  • Signs of fear include dilated pupils, ears flattened and held outward, whiskers flattened or pressed downward onto the face, tail closely wrapped or tucked under the body, and head held upward while lying prone.”

The first thing you need to do is rule out a medical reason for the aggression. Certain medical issues can cause a cat to react poorly, like hyperthyroidism, osteoarthritis, dental disease, and central nervous system problems. If you suspect there is a medical issue at play, be sure to get your cat checked thoroughly by the veterinarian.

Identifying the Problem

angry cat at table

If no medical issue is at play, you’ll need to find out what has set off your usually docile little feline and then undo the problem. These aggressive behaviors don’t usually come out of nowhere.

Rather than berating you cat for their failure to comply with your rules and regulations, consider if there have been any changes in your cat’s environment that may have upset them.

For example:

  • Did you recently change their food, litter or bedding?
  • Have you been spending a lot of time at work and neglected their usual playtime?
  • Have you been on vacation and left them behind?
  • Have you added a new member to the family, or worse – a new cat? The latter alone is enough to cause an angry or moody cat. 
angry cat in someone's arms

All of these changes can cause your cat to have a tantrum or feel unsafe, which can lead to aggressive or bad behavior. Just like with humans, it’s difficult to accept and adapt to change.

The best way to return your cat’s normal behavior is to determine the change and restore it to normal.

If it is something as simple as a new kind of food or litter, you can remedy the problem in two ways:

  1. Go back to the original brand that your cat liked
  2. If you must make the change, do it gradually so your cat doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

If the problem is something larger, like a new family member, or if your cat feels abandoned because you’ve been cone for a period of time, you will not be able to fix the situation so easily.

In this case, you and some pampering of your feline companion is in order.

  1. Give your cat extra love and attention until you start to see a change in behavior.
  2. Don’t abandon or leave your cat for long periods of time until he feels safe again.
  3. Give treats and find ways to praise your cat rather than punish for bad behavior caused by emotional trauma.

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Defuse the Situation

cat on top of refrigerator

If you find your unhappy feline perched on a high place, it is probably best to greet them and let them know very briefly that their behavior is unacceptable. Then it is best to simply ignore them.

Once they decide that your attention is better than them pouting on top of the fridge, accept their overtures as they leave their high hiding place and cautiously start to interact with you again. 

You may consider stroking them and speaking softly to reassure and soothe them. If you have a small treat you could give them, such as a bit of tuna, fish or shrimp, give it to them once they’ve come down.

cat leering at camera

Once a truce has been established, you can test the waters with a cat toy or two. Perhaps they will be in the mood to chase a little ball or maybe play with the string toy.

Whatever you decide to do, if your cat is unhappy, it is important that you do take the time to see to their needs and reaffirm the bond that has been created between you and your feline companion. 

Sometimes it may be hard to do so, especially if you come home to an apartment that looks like a before screen shot for various home decorating and remodeling shows, but letting out frustration on your cat will neither change their behavior nor improve the mood in your household.

Conclusion

Ultimately, your kitty will let you know what they’re mad about. Whether it be not enough attention or food, or a bigger issue, it’s best to listen to your cat. Listening will improve your bond and sooth an angry or moody cat.

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An angry orange cat

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