Preventing Aggression Between Cats
Whether it’s from feeling threatened or territorial, sometimes, your cat is going to get into a fight. This might be with their neighborhood feline friend, the local stray cat, or even their brother or sister. What’s worse, sometimes these fights just seem to come out of nowhere! Not only can cat aggression disturb the peace of your home, but it can lead to your cat being injured. You want to stop this from happening, but how? Where do you even begin?
5 Things Which Can Lead to a Cat Fight
There are a lot of factors that might lead to cat aggression. Here’s a few reasons why your cats might be fighting:
- Mating Season. Aggression between cats of the same sex will often increase during mating season.
- Changes in the Social Group. Cats are extremely social creatures who hate change. Each cat household will often have a hierarchy your head cat will want to maintain. When this social group changes, such as a losing a family memeber or another cat being adopted, your head cat might start to lash out.
- Environmental Changes. Remember what I said about cats not liking change? Your cats are going to become more aggressive when you move into a new house, rearrange the furniture, or even put the cat bowl in a different spot.
- Changes in Routine. Cats are creatures of habit. When the household’s daily ritual gets interrupted, they might lash out.
- Territory Disputes. Cats like having their own space. When a new cat enters the picture, your cat might become territorial over their food bowl, cat scratchers, and even their favorite window sill.
How to Stop Fighting Between Cats
Knowing what’s causing your cats to fight is only half the battle. Trust me, I know. After I figured out what was causing my cats to fight, I still didn’t know how to stop my cat from bullying my other cat. Luckily, cat behaviorists have a lot of great strategies for de-escalating your cat fights and teaching your cats to be less aggressive.
- Distract Your Cats. If you cats are starting to fight, you can break the tension by making a loud noise (such as clapping or banging pots together) or throwing a toy near them. Be careful to do this from behind a corner. You don’t want your cats to see you and think you’re a part of the fight too.
- Spay/Neuter Your Cats. Studies show that feline aggression is significantly reduced in cats that have been spayed or neutered before their first birthday.
- Reintroduce Your Cats. Sometimes, your cats’ relationship just needs a hard reset. When you brought your second cat home, you probably went through an introduction process so that your original cat wouldn’t get territorial. Time to do it again! Separate your cats to two isolated sections of your house. Slowly reintroduce them to each other in controlled situations, such as letting them meet while on leashes. Give your cats towels covered in the other’s scent so that they can get used to the other’s smell. Eventually, your cats should be able to be within the same space together without fighting. This process might take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how aggressive your cats are.
- Award Good Behavior. When your cats are fighting, it’s tempting to give your cats treats in order to lower tensions, but doing so will only reinforce bad behavior. Instead, reward your cats only when they are getting along.
- Give More Attention. Playing with your cats mentally stimulates them. Your cats can become more aggressive when they are bored, so be sure to give them lots of love and attention.
- Make More Territory. Cats become aggressive when they feel as though their territory is being threatened. If you have more than one cat, try giving them their own toys, cat scratchers, and bowls. If one cat is territorial over their favorite window sill, you can encourage your other cat to make the armchair their territory. Consider investing in a cat door that will give your cats access to outdoor spaces like catios, which will give your cats more area to comfortably split between themselves. Check out our full guide on installing a pet door into any home.
Should You Break a Cat Fight?
What are you supposed to do when your cats start fighting? Right off the bat, do not put your body in the middle of the fight. You’ll end up scratched up, and you might lose the trust of your cats. Instead, from a distance, make a loud noise. You might bang some pots together, rattle a can filled with coins, or even just clap your hands. The noise should be loud enough to frighten your cats a little, breaking up the fight as they run away. If loud noises do not work, spray bottles and aerosol cans can be a good alternative. If you do need to physically intervene, put a couch cushion between your cats to separate them.
After the fight, keep your cats separated. Once they have calmed down, check for injuries, and treat the ones you find so that they don’t get infected. Once your cats have mellowed, you can reintroduce them to each other again.
With these steps, you can stop your cats from fighting and restore peace to your household.