Why do cats fight?

A look Into why cats fight

If you have a household with multiple cats, you know that cat fights do happen. Even if your cats generally get along, they can still fight. While humans may not completely understand why their kitties are fighting, cats have their reasons for fighting.  Some of these reasons are similar to the reasons that humans have disputes. Cats express their discontent with other cats by picking fights. The reasons why cats fight can help you determine how to prevent your cats from fighting in the future.

Fighting for their territory: Many cats fight because of their territory. One of the reasons that cats fight is because they feel like an unwanted cat has invaded their territory, even if it is a cat that has lived with them for a long time.  Cats are much more territorial than dogs, and the gender of the cat has very little to do with it.  Contrary to what many people believe, female cats are sometimes just as territorial as their male counterparts.  If you have two cats in your home, you might notice that one cat hisses and swats at the other whenever he feels his territory has been invaded.  This can also happen if you bring a new cat into the home. They are simply defending their territory. 

Social ranking: Either male cats frequently threaten and fight each other for social ranking or, despite what you may think, even neutered males may do this. Suppose you have multiple cats, especially more than one male cat; one cat is usually considered the “alpha male” and will be at the top of the cat hierarchy. Two cats might posture their bodies, then begin howling and screaming at one another.  If one of the cats walks away or backs down, the catfight is usually avoided.   However, if neither one wants to throw in the towel and surrender, then one cat will attack the other by jumping forward and attempting to bite the neck.  The other cat will fall on his back and tries to bite or scratch the attacker with its hind legs.  The two cats might go through this several times before walking away.  There are usually no injuries sustained in these kinds of fights. You may even notice that kittens or young cats play with one another this way. Most of the time, you will not need to interfere.

Aggression: Cats also fight due to some redirected aggression, which is quite common, especially with indoor cats.  Your cat might be looking outside the window at another cat or dog crossing the yard.  Your cat begins to feel territorial and aggressive at this cat, but since this other cat cannot be reached, he may instead attack the other family cat. Another example is if you are giving your cats treats. One cat may reach the treat first and begin eating. The other one wants a bite, but the cat eating may become aggressive over the treat and begin to swipe or yowl with the other cat. 

 If you find your cats fighting occasionally, you should know that this is common and quite typical of cats. Most of the time, you can tell whether your cats are fighting for “blood” or just playing around. Stop a fight when it gets nasty; otherwise, allow your cats to work it out themselves. If you need to stop a catfight, you should do it carefully. Even the most loving cat can bite or scratch you in aggressive passion. You should make a loud noise, such as a handclap, to stop a fight.  Since cats are startled by loud noises, they will both stop to see what makes the noise.  You can also spray water on them to interfere with the aggressive behavior.

When you find your cats fighting, it is best not to punish their cats for their fight. Cats do not understand punishment, and fighting is an instinct in cats. The best thing to do is only interfere when necessary. If you find your cats fighting more than they should, it is time to find out why. Do they fight over a litter box, a food bowl, or a prime window location? Ensure each kitty has their own “things” and a place to retreat when they feel overwhelmed by other pets. This will go a long way in preventing real catfights.

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