Probably, each of us at least once witnessed a heartbreaking scene. Cats, nervously wagging their tails, emit low “intrauterine” sounds that turn into a lingering howl. Another minute – and the real fight begins. Not for life, but for death. Animals are injured or even perish. Not only “outsiders” fight, but also animals living in the same house, with the same owner. Why is this happening? Should cat fights be stopped?
Unpleasant and frightening for the owners there are cases when two cats living under the same roof, decide to arrange a struggle for spheres of influence. It is possible that before that they lived in a relative world, or maybe they never maintained good relations at all, in any case, their behavior became worse and worse from day to day. It is even possible that everything changed in one day, when the owner, returning from work, found menacingly growling cats in the living room and scraps of fur scattered throughout the apartment. Of course, the owners are very upset about this behavior of their pets, because they do not want their apartment to turn into a battlefield. Often, cats’ aggressive behavior directed at each other lasts for months or even years. The owners do not know how to deal with this, and do not suspect that the cause of this behavior may be a number of reasons that they can eliminate.
Aggression between cats
Many owners do not always recognize the fact that their cats do not get along with each other, because they do not see clear signs of aggression between them. Cats of such owners do not tear each other’s fur in fierce cat fights, do not yell or hiss, so no one notices those subtle signs of aggression that are between them. After all, aggression can be not only visible – physical, but also difficult to recognize – psychological. But the worst thing is that it is psychological aggression that is most terrible – in the end it will develop into physical aggression, but before that it keeps cats in constant stress. The cat is under constant psychological pressure – and you may not even notice it.
Keep in mind that cats prefer not to engage in real physical confrontation, and therefore they will try to neutralize the enemy through psychological pressure (intimidation). Every cat hopes that when his fur is fluffed up, he grumbles dully or even bares his teeth in a hiss, then he will convey to his opponent – “I’m really a terrible guy, so don’t mess with me!” and thereby convince his opponent to back down. We will notice this type of intimidation and we will understand that something is wrong. But there are many other methods of covert intimidation, such as guarding the path to the litter box, guarding the path to bowls of food or water, or, for example, such a harmless thing at first glance, such as when one cat carefully sniffs another while she eats from bowls.
Not all cats can get along with each other and live 100% of the time in friendship and love. Even the most friendly cats can sometimes start to share something, quarrel, and small conflicts can arise between them. Like humans, in the end, not all of them agree and sometimes just put up with each other in a common area, but if you notice signs of what we call bullying, then you may not suspect how high stress levels your cats live. And, in the end, this stress will spill over into something more, from physical aggression to marks and nervous diseases.
At the same time, there are times when it is impossible not to notice that your cats are not getting along with each other. Growling, hissing, and physical fights could become part of daily life in your home. If so, do not wait for the weather by the sea, hoping that cats will eventually find mutual understanding. This level of aggression will increase and increase every day until the causes are eliminated.
Cat fights: Find the reason
Raging hormones. It would be a mistake to believe that only cats – representatives of the stronger sex – suffer from aggression. The experts explain that both cats and kitties can start a fight. Mostly bullies are adult animals that have reached the age of 2-4 years. Most often, cats are fighting for the right to dominate. In addition, territorial instincts speak in them. “I don’t need someone else, but I won’t give mine either.” Is your pet mired in fights? Cuts, deep scratches, torn ear? Probably, there is only one way out – castration or sterilization. Plus soothing pheromones.
The smell of a new cat. Introducing a new pet, you paint an idyllic picture in your head – what tender friendship and harmony will reign in your home. Reality can be cruel. The brain of the “old-timer” will pierce the signal: “Danger! The invader is in the house! ” Some cats react very painfully. And also aggressive. What to do? Mix the smells of your pets immediately. Take a towel and wipe it one by one all your furry friends. The procedure should be repeated over several weeks.
Jealousy. Disgusting feeling, friends! Some cats (especially Siamese or Bengal) prefer to single-handedly own the heart of their owner. And then some upstart appeared and took his share of attention, love and care. What to do? Nothing – you knew what awaited you ahead!
Fight for territory. Not only street cats fight, but also domestic cats living under one roof. Such fights are a real headache for the owner. Each pet will have to allocate its own personal space. A room, a cat town, an armchair, a sofa …
Can cat fights be prevented?
With certain reservations – yes, you can. What is the best way to do this? Alternatively, separate the brawlers in different rooms. But how long will you (and they!) Have enough strength?
Another method works much better. Get a dog crate – the one used for training dogs. A cat carrier will not work – too small. Put a crib and tray in the crate, put one of the cats there. The other should be “free”, in the same room. Swap the pets the next day. Repeat the exercise for a week, two, three – as long as it takes so that your pets do not start quarreling at the sight of each other.
Then try to release them together without a cage. Don’t forget to reward good behavior! The main thing – do not take out of both eyes, do not let the situation out of your control. Someone tries to start a fight – mercilessly put it back in the crate. Keep up the good work until all attempts to start a fight stop completely.
The critical period is one to two months. Be methodical and consistent – your cats will gradually learn to coexist peacefully.
Make some changes
When you see that the relationship between cats is tense, but you feel that it is not serious or dangerous (they do not fight or engage in open confrontation), then you can start a behavior modification program to help them feel more at ease with the company. each other. The modification involves creating an environment that meets all safety requirements from a cat’s point of view, as well as adjusting behavior.
Sharing isn’t always good
Look at your cats’ habitat and think about what you can do to create a richer and safer environment. For example, it is possible that cats share just one bowl for two, and then you will notice that they tend to quarrel around that bowl or before and after feeding. Give each cat a separate bowl or set up multiple feeding areas in the house.
Another very important thing is the tray. Do cats have one tray for two? Or two trays, but they are next to each other in the same room? Make it a rule to have the same number of litter boxes as you and your cats, or better if there are one more litter boxes. Perhaps now is the time to add another tray in the adjacent room. Watch for cats attacking each other before or after using the toilet. Thus, you will exclude the situation when one cat is guarding the path to the litter boxes in order to exert psychological pressure on another.
The same rule applies to scratching posts. Since claw point is a behavior associated with territory marking, do not force cats to share one scratching post for two or even five if there are tensions in the group. Place more than one scratching post in your home. Even if you can’t put a separate scratching post for each cat, you can still give them the option to share the scratching post with a particular cat or not. Make sure every cat has a choice when it comes to accessing resources. Offering choices to cats is a very good and sure way to normalize their relationship and reduce stress. But be prepared for changes to take place over time.
Everyone who is familiar with my practice heard from me the phrase that we live in a horizontal world, and cats live in a vertical one. When I walk into my clients’ houses, the first thing I notice is the walls. Are there shelves for cats on the walls? Are there any couches or open shelves on the furniture for cats? Are cat complexes worth it? Thus, I determine if the cats in this house are happy. A cat that moves exclusively on the floor, a priori, cannot have high self-esteem, which means that it lives in a constant struggle for its status.
Vertical territory gives cats safe places to view and control their territory. For a confident and dominant cat, raising to a height can be a way of displaying her status and self-confidence. If she will be able to show her status in this way, then she will not have to prove it in fights. For an insecure cat, vertical territory can provide a safe place to sleep and rest, one where it does not risk being attacked by relatives. The cat will be able to go to another place if he notices that someone is approaching her, from above it is always better visible. In addition, being above everyone else in the physical plane gives the cat a certain semblance of confidence that in the psychological plane it begins to approach the leader. That is, with the help of raising to a height, we can artificially increase an insecure cat, self-esteem. This is how important vertical territory is in the cat’s world. In addition, the vertical territory is perfect for watching birds outside the window, for training and playing for cats, for sleeping and much more, which is so necessary for a full life of a cat.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to create vertical territory is to buy a large cat complex. It is better to purchase a complex with many shelves at different levels – this will allow cats to share it with a minimum of competition and choose a height that suits the needs of each of them.
Vertical territory can also be created by installing shelves on the wall. Even a cat lounger on a bookshelf increases the amount of cat-owned real estate. Take a look around your house or apartment and I bet you will find many places and ways to expand your cat’s territory vertically without spending a lot of time and money.
Create positive associations
This aspect of behavior modification helps your cats see each other from a different perspective. By creating positive associations, you give cats a reason to become friends. Try to make only good things happen when cats are around each other. Because of the aggression, they associate their opponent only with negative and you need to break this negative connection.
Try to treat them to treats when they are in the same room or sitting on the same couch. Try feeding them something tasty in the same room, but keep the bowls away from each other so the cats don’t feel stressed. Try to give them an equal amount of attention, do not highlight your favorites. You may be upset by the behavior of one of the cats, but you should not show it in front of the other cat, as they may not perceive it correctly. Do not take out evil, do not look for the guilty. Be impartial.
If one cat sees that she gets less attention, then you run the risk of conflict.
Games are a very useful tool
Use games as a behavior modification tool. Have individual interactive games with each cat for half an hour during the day. Retire to a separate room and play with each cat separately. So, animals can relax and switch their brains from guarding and conquering territory to more relaxing activities. In addition, parallel gaming sessions can be conducted. The advantage of these sessions is that cats can play “together” but do not have to compete for one toy. If there is another family member at home willing to play with one cat while you play with another, this is ideal. Cats should play in the same room together, but at a respectful distance. Do not direct cats in the direction of their opponent. Cats with such a game will see that they can be in the same room and enjoy the game and there is no aggression and intimidation. If you don’t have another family member, you can still try a side-by-side play session with a fishing rod in each hand. But this is difficult enough, so you better invite a friend.
Solo toys are also a valuable behavior change tool. If cats have something to focus their attention on instead of constantly competing with each other, this can reduce tension. Cats are hunters and they are born to be active. If you provide them with an enriched environment, providing them with opportunities to hunt down game, hunt and hunt rewards, they spend their active energy and they have much less of it in order to wage war for territory or destroy your home.
For solo games, you can use puzzle feeders. Now a lot of them have appeared in stores. This is a great way to provide some fun activity for each cat throughout the day, where she is rewarded for her hard work. You can also make DIY puzzle toys.
This is another valuable tool to use when dealing with two cats that don’t get along. Clicker training involves the use of a small clicker-generating device. With its help, dogs, dolphins, and now cats have been successfully trained for a long time. The clicker sound is used to indicate the desired and correct behavior. Thus, you can reward the cat for any of its correct steps and it will more accurately and timely receive a reward and understand what it is doing right and what is not. You can read about working with a clicker in my magazine and on the Internet.
Take it easy
Oddly enough, but it is you who can influence the reaction of your cats to each other. If you are tense when they are together because you expect something terrible to happen, then they too will be tense and their emotional background will rise, which can provoke attacks. If you punish one cat for its behavior in the presence of another cat, then you are not doing anything to eliminate this behavior, you are simply ripping off the evil and making it clear to the living that fighting and emotional pressure is a way of resolving conflicts. Be calm when interacting with animals, and especially during behavior modification. If you get angry, then it is better to leave the room, breathe, take a break, and then return to the cats in a good mood.
When things go horribly wrong
What if the relationship between your cats has deteriorated so badly that someone is at risk of injury? What if they can’t even be in the same room for one second without a fight? Then it’s time to re-introduce the cat into the house.
There are times when the best way to heal a relationship is to start from scratch. Instead of continuing on a path that leads nowhere, using tactics that are clearly not working, it is better to separate the cats and bring them into the house again as if they had never met.
If the situation is too serious or you are afraid of cats, then it is time to see a cat behavior specialist. The specialist is able to assess the behavior of cats and their environment without panic, and provide you with a detailed plan for behavior modification.
Cats won’t change overnight
Be patient. It will take a long time to help cats destroy old ideas about each other and create new ones. Unless you are dealing with a case of redirected aggression, cats’ relationships will definitely not change overnight; it will take weeks and months. But, believe me, all your efforts will be rewarded if you correctly and calmly modify behavior and the environment.
Should I get involved in a cat fight?
As for street animals – see for yourself. As they say, act according to the situation. We would advise you to try to stop especially fierce cat fights.
But what to do when your “native” pets are fighting? Under no circumstances should you try to separate them with your bare hands. We advise you to arm yourself with a water pistol and use it. The critical moment is ripe – release a stream of water. Alternatively, you can use any source of noise – crackers, pneumatic toy guns, aluminum cans with coins inside, etc.
Do not hit animals, do not blow them with a broom or brush. Will not help! You will not stop aggression, but both cats will rank you as personal enemies. You definitely don’t need it!
Only consistency, methodicality and patience will help you. For a month or even two.