Learn online, study cat behaviour and psychology, learn cat training, and study self paced at home with online courses.

Course Code: BAG222
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!
Learn to Control the Behaviour of Cats

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of Cat Psychology
  2. Cat Senses and Communication
  3. Understanding Natural Behaviour in Cats
  4. Behavioural Disorders/Abnormalities
  5. Basic Training
  6. Obedience Training
  7. Cat Behaviour Management
  8. Cat Services and Cat Business


  • Understand cat psychology and apply that knowledge to manage and influence the behaviour of cats.
  • Describe how cats think, and discuss the relevance of understanding cat psychology to people.
  • Explain how cats communicate; and formulate an understanding of possible ways that a human may communicate with a cat.
  • Understand behaviours that are natural, hence predictable in cats; and learn to read signals that cats give.
  • Explain how cats develop behavioural characteristics throughout stages of their life.
  • Describe commonly occurring behavioural problems in cats.
  • Describe techniques for training cats
  • Implement measures to manage the behaviour of cats.
  • Develop knowledge on running your own cat business.

Learn to Understand the Cat

Every cat is a little different to all other cats (just like humans), but there are some primal behavioural traits which are both common and normal in all cats. By understanding those behaviours better, we develop insights that allow those behaviours to be better managed. 

Consider and understand Aggression

Aggression is a common problem in cats, however, before deciding a cat is an “aggressive cat”, it is important to look at the cat and their previous behaviour. Have they always been aggressive? Is this a new behaviour? Have there been any changes in the cat’s life, such as new member to the family, new pet, moved home and so on? Also consider whether the cat has a medical condition that could be affecting their behaviour.  

When a cat displays aggression, we have to look at why. Who was he aggressive towards? When did it happen? What was happening for a period of time before the cat was aggressive? What was about to happen to the cat?  By looking at these things, we can try to understand why the cat behaved in that way. 

We have also mentioned that certain medical conditions can cause aggression in cats.  These conditions include:

  • hyperthyroidism
  • toxoplasmosis
  • abscesses
  • dental disease
  • arthritis
  • rabies
  • injury or trauma
  • sensory and cognitive decline in older cats

If an owner thinks that a cat has any health issues that relate to their aggression, it is important that the cat is taken to a veterinarian so that they can be treated appropriately. If a cat is in pain or distress, they may display aggression if they fear more pain.

Pain and irritation can lead to aggression when a cat is in pain, frustrated or deprived. This aggression can be directed towards other animals, humans and objects.  Even normally docile cats can be aggressive when hurt or irritated.  

Do not excuse negative or aggressive behaviour in cats, but instead look at the larger picture if the aggression is not a one-off incident. 
Cats can also be aggressive if they do not like being petted.  Some cats enjoy being petted, hugged and held, whilst others only tolerate it. Some do not like being petted at all. A cat may feel irritated by this and perhaps nip or lightly bite the person petting them, whilst others may simply run off.  This type of aggression is not well understood, but some scientists think that petting can become unpleasant for the cat if it is repeated over and over again; it can cause pain, excitement and even static electricity in the cat.  This aggression type is more common in males than females.  Warning signs that a cat does not want the petting to continue include:

  • dilating pupils
  • restlessness
  • flattening ears
  • twitching or flipping tail
  • quickly turning head towards person’s hand

Young cats and kittens may play in a rough way.  They may be full of playful intentions, but when the play is directed at humans or objects, it can cause injury or damage.   Playful aggression is the most common type of aggression shown in cats.  It usually involves behaviours such as:

  • pouncing
  • stalking
  • chasing
  • swatting
  • biting
  • fighting
  • grabbing
  • running

It is thought that cats learn how to inhibit their bites during play with other young cats, so you often find that in this sort of aggression, their claws are sheathed. Other factors that can affect play aggression are when a cat is alone for long periods of time with no opportunity to play or if their owners encourage them to attack people’s hands or feet in play.  

Naturally cats may show aggression when they are fearful or defensive. Their aggression may escalate if they feel they cannot escape. And the more threatening the opponent, the more heightened the cat’s reaction will be.  A cat will display typical body postures, such as:

  • pupil dilation
  • spitting
  • hissing
  • growling
  • swatting
  • biting
  • scratching
  • crouching
  • flattened ears
  • leaning away
  • rolling onto side

If a cat displays aggression in this way, the best thing to do is to simply avoid them until they calm down. If their aggression is because they feel trapped, approaching them to calm them down could make them worse.  


Who should study this course?

  • People working in a cattery.
  • Understand cat psychology.
  • Obedience and basic training.
  • Learn about health and behavioral issues.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.