Unlike dogs, cats are very independent animals, who love nothing more than to mark their territory, especially in the presence of other cats.
Two cats living under the same roof or even cats that meet each other outside are bound to fight at some point. Cat fights can cause injuries with even the smallest scratches leading to infections which can be very painful for your feline friend.
To stop this from happening, particularly where two cats who live together are concerned, follow our guide on understanding the reasons behind why cats fight and how to avoid it.
Why does my cat fight?
A cat may be forced to fight or can attack for a variety of different reasons but one thing is for sure, fights will concern their territory.
Cats are creatures of habit and like to have a space to call their own. The slightest change in routine can stress them out and the arrival of a new cat can make them aggressive.
There are four main factors which can explain why cat's fight:
- Hormones: Unsterilized male cats are particularly susceptible to conflict. Young cats that are in heat for the first time are the most at risk, especially if they have access to more space than their owners' garden and home.
- A new cat: The arrival of a new cat in the house can cause tension. Especially if an adult cat has to make room on their territory for another adult cat. It is easier to bring a kitten into a home where there is already an older cat.
- Their territory: As mentioned above, the intrusion of another cat on their territory can make your pet aggressive. The larger the territory, the greater the risk of encounters with intruder cats. However, too many cats in too small a space can also have unpleasant consequences, in addition to promoting disease.
- Jealousy: Do you have two cats who suddenly start fighting when they previously got along very well? It is very likely that the cat that attacks is jealous of the attention you pay to the other. Owners are part of a cat's territory and they may not like having to share them.
What do I do if my cat's fighting?
If you catch your cat fighting with another cat outside, or perhaps if two of your cats start fighting, the ideal situation would be to separate them before they hurt themselves. This is all the more important if your cat starts fighting a stray as the smallest scratch could transmit a diseases, especially if your cat isn't vaccinated.
Although it can be tempting and you'll probably have the strength, don't try to get between two cats fighting. Also, do not try to hit or separate them with an object, such as a broomstick.
These attempts to intervene will only make the two cats even more aggressive. They may turn against you and your cat may lose confidence in you if you scare them too much.
The best way to stop two cat's fighting without harming yourself is to divert their attention. If they're scared of water, you could spray them with this. Make sure to do this from a distance so the cats don't immediately realise you're the source of their disturbance.
Making noise with an object, without shouting yourself, can also be a great way to get them to separate. Knocking on a frying pan, shaking a bag filled with noisy objects (coins, balls…) or knocking sharply with a broom on the floor can work. If the fight takes place outside, be careful not to scare your cat into running away.
Once separated, don't punish your cats. They will not understand and this could make them aggressive. Positive reinforcement and patience are the best ways to prevent them from fighting again.
Finally, don't forget to check your cat or cats for any injuries. It can be difficult at first glance to see if they are injured, particularly if they are long-haired. However, even the smallest scratch can become infected if not treated in time.
Source: 101 cats/istock
How can I prevent my cat from fighting?
My cat is fighting with another cat in the house
If two cats in your home are regularly fighting, then it's very likely they have a problem with sharing their territory, particularly if one has been living there longer than the other.
To put an and to these fights, it's vital to know if the two cats are capable of living with each other in the same space without attacking.
You can for example place two cats in the same room, one roaming free while the other is locked in a large transport cage with food, water and a litter. Leave them regularly alone in the room so arranged (two hours a week for example), alternating for the cat in the cage.
When they seem to be comfortable in each other's presence, let them both roam free in the room, making sure they aren't left unsupervised. Play with them and praise them for their behaviour. If one of them starts attacking the other, place them in the cage.
In a few weeks, they should learn to successfully live together without a problem.
If despite this, your cats still continue to fight, then you will need to divide your house into two territories so they can each have their own side. Each cat must have their own space with a litter, food and toys.
Make sure you don't adopt too many cats, even if you have a garden. Every cat should have access to a room where they're the only cat, especially if they've ever struggled to get along with the others.
If two of your cats that usually get along well get into a fight, then the problem could be cat jealousy. The attacking cat may feel neglected and consider that you are giving more attention to the cat they choose to attack.
In this case, it is very important not to reinforce this feeling by repelling the aggressive cat and protecting the one being attacked. It is up to you to restore your cat's confidence by giving them attention, through play time or caresses.
My cat is fighting with a stray cat or neighbouring cat
If your cat starts fighting when they're outside, it can be difficult to constantly monitor them. Locking your cat away isn't necessarily the best solution as this could make them upset.
The best thing to do is to make sure that they're up to date on all their vaccines, especially cat AIDS, and to make sure they are just generally as healthy as possible.
Sterilization will prevent your cat from going looking for a partner and getting into a fight.
If your cat is fighting an intruding cat from the outside, you can try to better protect your home from these intrusions.
No matter what situation might cause your cat to fight, keep a first aid kit so you can disinfect and bandage any injuries.