Why do cats fight? Guest post by Sabina Sayegh
About the author: Sabina Sayegh runs a successful Pet Nanny service in the San Fernando Valley, California area. Her website has loads of information for cat lovers. This post is an excellent resource for multiple cat owners that are trying to understand why their cats don't get along all the time.
Understanding 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, at times, 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 with each other for social ranking or despite what you may think; even neutered males may do this. If 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, then 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 as a result of some kind of redirected aggression and this 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 that is eating may become aggressive over the treat and begin to swipe or yowl and the other cat. Usually this is not the case……..because they do sense their home is only a home if everyone tries their best to get along.
If you find your cats fighting occasionally, you should know that this is common and quite typical of cats. Most of the time, you will be able to tell whether or not your cats are fighting for "blood" or just playing around. The time to stop a fight is when it gets nasty otherwise; allow your cats to work it out themselves. If you feel the need to stop a catfight, then you should do it carefully. Even the most loving cat can bite or scratch you in aggressive passion. To stop a fight, you should make some kind of loud noise, such as a handclap. Since cats are startled by loud noises, they will both stop to see what is making 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 the cats for their fight. Cats do not understand punishment and fighting is a natural instinct in cats. The best thing to do is only interfere when necessary. If you find your cats are fighting more than they should, it is time that you find out why. Do they fight over a litter box, a food bowl or a prime window location? Make sure each kitty has his or her own "things" and a place to retreat when they feel overwhelmed by other pets in the house. This will go a long way in preventing real catfights.
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