Understanding Your Cat’s Fighting Behavior

Cats fights can be most disruptive to a household. It’s not enjoyable for everyone to watch cats engage in deadly fights. But why do cats fight? And what can you do about it as a cat owner?

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Why do Cats Fight?

Cats fight for all sorts of reasons. A cat could simply have grown up as the only cat in the house, and all of a sudden, you introduce a new cat in the house. This will definitely disrupt the first cat’s schedule, environment and probably reduce the amount of attention it gets. The first cat is likely to respond with violence towards the new cat.

Your cat is also likely to develop aggressive behavior during its parenting years. Once a cat gets kittens, it will become defensive to its young ones, and will even fight other cats with whom it used to get along. Normally, this can be handled by separating the mother from other cats. A good way to deal with it is also to spay the mother cat. This way, the cat will not have future litters, and therefore no future aggression problems. This aggression should not be a reason for panic- the cat will get back to normal after the kitten are weaned.

Other times, the cats are not really fighting but just fight- playing. Cats will rarely just start fighting out of the blues. It usually starts with some kind of display of hostility; originally subtle and later escalates to dangerous fights. However, if your cats simply start fights suddenly, they might simply be playing.

Kittens belonging to the same litter are more commonly known to fight as part of their games. Grown cats can also fight to play, but will generally be at the same social level. You can tell this by the occasional display of affection. The cats can rub noses, cuddle, groom or even rub against each other. These can indicate to you that the two cats have no rivalry but are simply fighting as part of their playing. Since the cats will not always show these signs of bonding, it is necessary for you, as the owner, to watch your cats closely. Some of them display these emotions rarely and subtly and it is up to you to notice it. That way, you can much easier understand your cat’s fighting behavior.

How to observe and interpret cat fights


Cat fights usually involve some noises. Playing is generally silent and can be easily concluded if the cats are taking turns at being the aggressor. Hissing is one of the most common sounds produced by fighting cats. However, cats hissing in the middle of a fight does not necessarily mean that the cats are engaged in a war. The cats may still be playing, but one may have gone a step too far. The other cat will then respond by hissing. If the same cat hisses too much in the middle of the fight, then this indicates that the cats may be no longer playing.

Ordinary non-play cat fights will even involve growls and a lot of fur spilling. The cats will also have flattened ears, extended claws and will sway their tails in a firm way.

So how are you supposed to handle cat play sessions that involve fights?

First, you should never try to break the fight as you would for two people fighting. This will breed tension between the two cats and will result in heightened levels of aggression. The cats are likely to get back in a real fight if their play session is interrupted. Instead, you should just let the cats play. If the fight seems dangerous, you can distract the cats with food or something they like.

 How to Handle Aggressive Cat Fights


If the cats are not just playing, you may need to first find out the cause of the fight. If it is the introduction of a new cat, you can reduce the incidence of fights by separating the cats. Give them separate food bowls, litter boxes and separate sleeping areas. That way, they can like each other slowly as the new cat is integrated into the home. Don’t expect this to happen in a very short span of time; it could easily take a number of weeks depending on the severity of the aggression.

A way of creating desirable behavior is to reward good behavior all the time. You can also switch the rooms of the cats every now and then so that the cats can experience and learn each other’s scents.

Also, don’t let cats fight to the end; always interrupt their fights with a clap of your hands.

Keep allowing the cats to meet every now and then to test whether the aggression has gone down. If there seems to be no progress, then you can consider hiring an animal behaviorist to correct the behavior of the cats.

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