- Why do cats fight?
- How to reduce cat stress when cats fight
- How can I tell if cat fighting is real?
- Do female cats fight with male cats?
- How to stop cats from fighting?
- Carefully separate them
- Distract them
- Reward good behaviour
- Give them separate areas of the house
- Let them eat together behind a closed door
- How to stop cats from fighting outside
- Keep the cat indoors
- Find out more about the cat your pet is fighting
- Go outside and help
- Long-term solutions for cat fighting
- Animal behaviourists
- Separate your cats for a long period of time
It can be extremely distressing to see your cat get into a fight, whether that is with their playmates at home or with other cats outside of the house.
But there are ways to stop cats fighting, both in the short term and in the long term. In this article, we’ll explore why cats fight, how to stop cats from fighting and what long-term solutions you can look towards if it keeps happening.
Why do cats fight?
Territory: Cats are territorial animals and they will often fight to defend what they believe is their territory. This is most common with cat fights that happen outside the house, where your cat believes another cat has encroached on their land. Alternately, a feral cat could believe your cat should not be here. But such fighting is also common among cats who live together. Cats mark their territories with scent, and your house is no exception. If you have more than one cat living at home, they will often fight about this issue.
Aggression: Some cats can be aggressive by nature. Male cats are especially aggressive and these cats keep fighting. Sometimes, they also dominate female cats. Your cat may need to act out their aggression by picking fights with their brothers and sisters or by causing a fight with a strange cat.
Rough play: Sometimes cats can be playing and it can get rough. Cats are rough when they play – this may look like aggression and fighting, but it is not. Still, such play could escalate into a fight or cause harm to both or one of the cats. In such cases, it is best to separate your cats if you can do so safely.
How to reduce cat stress when cats fight
Cats are not pack animals, and they don’t generally enjoy living in groups, small or large. There are ways to make space sharing less stressful including: providing separate feeding areas for each cat, providing numerous water stations, and creating lots of quiet, private hiding areas for ‘me time’. Using cat-appeasing pheromone products (either sprays to use on furniture around the home or plug into diffusers) can help to reduce feeling s of stress and therefore reduce aggressive behaviour. These techniques will help with the introduction of a new cat or to reduce any signs of cat aggression in household that already has multiple pets.
How can I tell if cat fighting is real?
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if your cats are play-fighting or actually fighting. There are some ways to tell if the fight is real:
- Aggressive sounds – growling, hissing and yowling
- Fighting with full-contact – if cats are locked together and fighting, it can cause injury
- Aggressive body language – fluffed up tails, arching their backs (heckles), tense posture, body low to the ground, and ears rotated to the back
- Stares with wide eyes – blank expressions and eyes that don’t blink
Do female cats fight with male cats?
Male cats can dominate female cats occasionally as male cats are typically more aggressive. They might relive their aggression by picking fights with their male and female littermates, or even other cats. Male and female cats from different litters can live together, they just need time to adjust.
How to stop cats from fighting?
Watching your cats fighting can be heart-breaking; here are two animals that you adore and they are hurting each other! A common solution is to distract them, but you can also ask the vet or a pet behaviourist for advice. Socialisation can also help cats stop fighting. If your cats used to get along but have recently been fighting, we have our tips here below:
Carefully separate them
While your first instinct might be to jump in and separate them, do be careful. Cats can be aggressive they are worked up like this, and you may get a lot of scratches for your efforts. We suggest trying to gently separate them, as long as you are sure you are not in harm’s way.
Cats can get very engrossed with fighting, but you can try and distract them. Find something you know the love, like a cat toy, and make a noise with it. This might get their attention and stop the fight.
The most important thing to remember when stepping in to halt the fighting is: don’t get hurt and don’t make you cat(s) more stressed/scared with the techniques used. So don’t be aggressive towards your cat, and don’t use heavy-handed techniques.
After a fight, there are other things you can do to prevent it from happening again…
Reward good behaviour
When you see your cats getting along and interacting in a friendly way, it’s good to reward them. This can be with cat treats or pets.
Give them separate areas of the house
You’ll want to think about separating their litter boxes, bowls of food and water, and beds to different areas of the house. They can still smell each other but won’t be interacting so it can give them the necessary time apart. You can also switch rooms each day so they get used to each other’s scent.
Let them eat together behind a closed door
By doing this, your cats will be separated but doing something together that makes them feel good.
How to stop cats from fighting outside
Sometimes, when your cat is wandering outside, they could be attacked by another cat. These attacks can be systematic: owners have stories of a single cat that keeps fighting their cat every time they go outside. This is especially worrying if your cat is mild-mannered and gentle, and is unlikely to fight back. The injuries from these fights can require several trips to the vet and can be worrying.
Keep the cat indoors
The best solution for how to stop cats from fighting in this situation is to keep your cat indoors. Letting them out after dark can be especially dangerous.
Find out more about the cat your pet is fighting
If you cannot keep your cat indoors, you can try and find out if the other cat belongs to someone and if that cat can be controlled.
Go outside and help
Alternatively, when you hear your cat is in distress, go outside to help. Most strange cats will run at the sight of a human, so you may not have to do much to stop the fight except turn up.
Long-term solutions for cat fighting
If your cat keeps fighting, whether it’s with strange cats from the neighbourhood or, if it’s a case of your cats never getting along and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, you may need a more permanent solution. A cat that always gets into fights may be suffering from excess aggression or they may simply have poor socialisation skills. Here are some leads on how to help your cat for the long term.
Cats often fight because they have excess aggression. This aggression can be a symptom of an illness that you are not aware of. Take them to the vet and get them checked out. Your vet will be able to advise you on how to proceed.
If your cat is not ill but still has a large amount of unresolved aggression, you can take them to an animal behaviourist. These cat specialists are good at resolving issues for cats who keep fighting, and they can train your cat to manage their aggression better.
Separate your cats for a long period of time
You might need to separate and reintroduce your cats over a longer period of time, like a few weeks. When you do reintroduce them, it should be in controlled sessions where they move closer to each other as the days go on. We have more on this below – see socialisation.
One of the main reasons that cats fight is poor socialisation. These cats simply do not know how to share or get along with other cats. You may need to re-socialise these cats so that they know how to act around others. You can take them to cat training school to try and improve their behaviour. Alternatively, there are books and YouTube tutorials on how to help your cat get along better with other cats. Check out our top tips for successful kitten socialisation.
Watching your cats fight can be distressing, but it can be solved. Simply follow the guidelines in this article to try and separate your cats when the fight occurs. Moreover, try one of the long-term leads above if it seems like they may need a more permanent solution. Remember, these fights can be solved and do not have to be an enduring problem.
Next, find out how to introduce your cat to other pets the easy way!