If your cat regularly swats his paw at you, you’re most likely not a happy camper. Cats can do significant damage with their claws, and especially if there are kids in your household, putting a stop to the behavior is essential. Knowing what triggers your cat to swat at you, can make it easier to turn your aggressive feline into a cuddly, well-behaved cat.
Visit the Veterinarian
If your cat suddenly starts swatting at you and also displays other aggressive behavior, such as hissing and biting, a visit to the veterinarian might be in order. The vet can examine your furry pal to rule out a painful injury or medical conditions, such as arthritis and hypothyroidism, which can trigger the undesired behavior. Proper treatment of the condition can help end the aggressive behavior.
Startle Your Cat
Rather than physically punishing your cat, startle him the moment he displays aggressive behavior. When you catch him in the act, blow a whistle, clap your hands or shake a can of pennies. Ideally, he doesn’t see you making the loud noise, because you want him to associate it with his aggression, not with you. The loud noise will stop him in his tracks, and with consistency, It might just stop the aggressive behavior altogether.
Stop Over-Petting Your Cat
When your cat swats his paw at you when you’re petting him, it might just because he’s had enough. Overstimulation can trigger your cat to get aggressive. Learning to recognize the signs of upcoming aggression might help you prevent your cat from swatting at you. When he starts flicking his tail, stares and rotates his ears back or to the side, stop petting him, because these are all signs that he’s agitated. Once you can easily gauge his temper, stop petting before the aggression sets in, and give him a treat for staying calm. This helps him associate peaceful petting with pleasant consequences.
Ignore Your Cat
When your cat swats his paw at you, it might be an attempt to get your attention. The moment you pay attention to him, you’re telling him that his swatting was effective, and he’ll continue to use his paws to get your attention. Even if you yell at him, he’ll still perceive it as getting your attention. If you think your cat’s aggression stems from wanting your attention, ignore him. Don’t make eye contact, don’t talk to him and don’t pet him. Instead, give him attention when he’s calm and relaxed. This tells him that swatting isn’t effective and he might just resort to staying calm in the hopes of getting your attention.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Tree House Humane Society