For cats, fighting is natural behaviour. Whether it is companion cats who have peacefully lived together and now engage battles in the living room or neighbourhood cats who are protecting their territory, cat fights are inevitable.
Cats are an incredibly territorial species and like to defend what they believe is their territory, however, males tend to be more territorial than females as they tend to defend larger areas of territory.
There are various reasons as to why cats pick fights but if you learn to read the signals then you can minimize the chance of a cat fight occurring or recognise when a fight is about to erupt. It is important that you do everything you can to prevent your cat fighting with others – the more cats fight the worse the problem becomes. When bringing a new kitten home, socialisation is key as this will prevent aggression in later life. If you do get caught up in a cat fight then it is vital that you never pull fighting cats apart, either squirt them with water or use a whistle to distract them.
By understanding some of the reasons cats create fights you are half way there to preventing them from happening.
In both male and female cats hormones can play a huge part for aggression in cats. Male cats can become involved in inter-cat aggression which most often occurs when a cat reaches social maturity between the ages of two and four and is a type of behavioural problem. This type of aggression can be seen in males competing for mates however can also be status related, fear related, play related or can occur when you are introducing a new cat to their territory.
Choosing the right cat for a multicat household and gradually introducing a new cat into the household is crucial for preventing inter-cat aggression. The best way to address this behaviour is to spay/neuter all cats as sexual hormones are a huge factor in this type of aggression. Female cats may be involved in maternal aggression. All new mothers can be protective of their offspring and maternal aggression occurs when the mother cat, also known as the Queen, and her kittens are approached by people or other pets who she perceives as a threat. The mother can be very protective of her new babies especially for the first few days after giving birth therefore it is better to stay away and handle the kittens as little as possible for this time.
Any sudden changes in your cat’s behaviour could be an indication of an underlying medical condition so it would be advised to consult your vet if you are concerned.
As cats are a very territorial species they see territory a lot different to how dogs see it. Cats associate newcomers as intruders or invaders, whether this be a new cat companion in the household or a new cat in the neighbourhood.
Cats are profoundly fussy creatures and may tolerate one cat but not another. If they see a certain cat every day, then they will more than likely accept and learn to tolerate them as they get used to their smells and sight of them.
If you are thinking about introducing a new cat into your home, then this can cause some major cat fights on both parts as new cats need to establish their territory and exisiting cats will need to defend theirs.
Even if territory expands no further than the living room male cats tend to be more territorial, so it would be a good idea to think about neutering him before his new playmate joins the family. You should remember to socialise your kitten up to around twelve weeks old as this can help avoid any territory aggression as they get older. Getting them used to situations such as visits to the vet, groomers or the local streets will help them when they are maturing.
If you suspect that your cat is being territorial you may notice that they may engage in stalking whilst growling or hissing and staring out. Territorial behaviour can range from rubbing their chin on objects around the house, scratching at furniture or spraying their urine on walls . As cats are particularly sensitive to smells, if they feel insecure or threatened they will use their scent such as urine spraying or chin rubbing to warn off other cats.
You must never punish your cat for territorial behaviour as this can make them more aggressive.
Adding to your cat brood can cause an immense amount of jealousy in your existing cats. Jealousy is more likely in breeds such as the Siamese as they like being around people and close to their family members.
You may think you are doing best for your cat by getting them a playmate and companion, but they can see it as a huge threat or a rival. It is always advised that you keep them separated at first and introduce them to one another gradually.
Always make sure that each cat has their own things such as litterbox, bowls and scratching poles as this will avoid your cat getting territorial over its belongings and avoid unnecessary fights.
Once introduced to one another and settled in then you could try one on one time with each cat to dismiss any fears they may have about feeling left out.
It is important to keep in mind that spaying or neutering your cat greatly reduces any sort of aggression and in males can stop the urge to fight.