Why Cat Fights Happen and How to Stop Them 

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Believe it or not, fighting is a natural feline behavior.  Not a desired one, but it does occur, and in order to get cats to stop fighting, you must figure out the “why.”  

Keep reading as we discuss five reasons why cats fight.

Hormones 

When male cats reach sexual maturity, between 2-4 years of age, their hard-wiring kicks in and they fight to compete for any female in heat.  Spaying and neutering are the first step towards preventing this type of a cat fight from occurring! 

If spaying and neutering does not solve the problem, species-appropriate pheromones can help reduce aggressive tendencies. Spray the pheromone everywhere, each room of the house in order for it to be most effective, or if your cat will wear a collar, try attaching a pheromone collar.    

Hierarchy & Territory 

Cats often have a spot in their house they consider ‘their own!’ Claws off! However, depending on their place in the clowder, they may have to fight and/or concede if the cat higher in the family hierarchy desires that spot. You can encourage the aggressor to not take over the other feline’s place of honor by coaxing him or her to a special place of their own with catnip and/or treats. 

Using the scent of the cat you want to go to a particular spot may also help. Rub a washcloth or cozy blanket on that kitty and then place the fabric in the spot you would like for her to call her own. Getting her a new cat tree or other special item may help her realize her spot is special. 

New Resident and/or Poor Socialization 

If you bring a new pet – dog or cat – into the household, some cats are greatly bothered by the alien smell and may act out in various ways. 

Mingling all of the pets scents is the best solve for this issue, so again try the towel rub method. This time though, rub a towel gently over the new resident and then over the old timer several times a day. It may take a few weeks and it actually helps if you acclimate the two animals to each other first.

You can do this by bringing a towel or other article of clothing ‘scented’ in this manner to each pet to get used to before they cohabitate. 

Keep in mind, cats like consistency, and particularly if your cat grew up as the only feline, he may react strongly when he does get introduced to another. Providing good socialization skills early on is always best for keeping peace in the house.  

Just Plain Jealous 

When you add a new member to the family and are oh so excited about their arrival, be sure to make time, one-on-one, for your other cat so that he won’t feel the newcomer is stealing your attention and love. 

Jealousy is a common reason for fights in all species! In the feline world, breeds that bond closely with their humans will need extra love and reassurance, so don’t just dote on the new one, dote on all of your animal family members equally. 

Maternal Aggression 

Maternal aggression usually subsides once the kittens are weaned, but until that time, the momma cat may hiss, chase, swat, even growl at another cat who approaches her and her litter.  Once you have survived this scenario, it is best to spay a maternally aggressive cat for future peace of mind. 

Stop a Fight Before it Happens! 

Like with most things in life, it is always easier to prevent a problem from occurring than to have to stop it once it has started. Do you best to figure out the “why” and put into action the appropriate suggestions from above.

Should your cats choose not to give peace a chance, get a large dog crate (do not, I repeat, do not use a cat carrier which is kitty’s ‘refuge’ and travel den) for your cat. Put the dog crate in a neutral room that the cats typically do not hang out in. Place one cat (along with her bed and litter box) in this big crate closed securely and the other cat loose in the room. 

Leave them alone each day for about a week, rotating which kitty is crated, of course continuously peek in. If things seem less volatile, let them out together in that room, but supervise!  Give treats, play with feather wands or other toys and praise, praise, praise for good behavior. Continue this until they can be in the room without fighting. 

After, then begin to reintroduce them to the rest of your home. Never forget to praise and reward good behavior, and hopefully a peaceful coexistence will result in a month or less.  

How to Break Up a Cat Fight 

Should the worst happen, and it might, have a water squirt bottle at the ready as you should never reach in to separate fighting cats! Alternatives to reaching in can include making a loud noise. You can bang a pan or have a can full of pennies ready to rattle.

Be patient.  Be kind.  If you set ground rules and stick to them, you should be able to achieve harmony in time. Never hesitate speaking with your veterinarian to obtain the name of a feline behaviorist if you’re at your wits’ end.  Professionals can help you and your cats find a peaceful resolve. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

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