Cats Not Getting Along? Some Tips to Help
Do you have cats that aren’t getting along? There could be a multitude of reasons why your cats are fighting. Although felines tend to be quiet and low key, they all have very distinct personalities. Some are aggressive and bold, others timid, or laid-back and carefree. When you have more than one cat, things can sometimes get a little dicey when those personalities come together under one roof.
If your cats aren’t getting along, you need to find out why it’s happening before you can solve the problem. This article will discuss the various reasons behind cats not getting along and offer some solutions.
Every cat fight is not the same…
Sometimes what looks light a cat fight is actually just normal playing. It’s more common with younger cats, but it can happen at any age. Cats will chase each other around the house, tackle each other and fight like little wrestlers on the floor. It can sometimes get pretty intense, but as long as they're not crying out in pain, there’s no need to break them up. They’re probably just having fun or trying to establish their rank in the household.
If your cats are still in the ‘getting to know each other’ phase (the first few months after a new cat has been brought into the home) and doing the kind of play-fighting described above, don’t worry. They’re probably battling for the alpha-cat position in the household.
This happened with my two cats after they met and went on for about two or three months. They had a good fight almost every day, but gradually that tapered off and they began getting along much better. If you suspect that’s what’s going on with your cats, just let them get it out of their system.
In a real catfight, you’ll see claws, teeth and hear plenty of hissing, growling and crying. You will want to break up this type of fight, but don’t get in the middle of it. The best way is to clap loudly or stomp on the floor to scare the cats. Some people suggest spraying the warring cats with a water bottle, but I’ve heard mixed-opinions on whether that’s a good idea. If you try to pull one cat off the other, you’ll likely end up getting scratched. Of course remember to never hit or strike a cat. It won’t solve the problem and will only make the cat distrust you.
Here are some tips to help solve different scenarios of cats not getting along:
A new cat is not getting along with current cat(s) in household
Bringing a new cat or kitten into the home when you already have one or more cats can upset the current cat hierarchy within the household. A proper, slow introduction of the cats will help ease the adjustment.
Here is an introduction technique to try even if your cats have already met and spent time together.
Technique for Re-Introduction of a Cat or Kitten:
1) Separate the cats that aren’t getting along.
2) Give the newest cat or kitten its own safe room. It can be a bedroom, a bathroom, a laundry room or any room with a door where the cat can be isolated from the other cat(s) in the household. Make this room the cat’s special place, complete with his water, food, litter box, bedding and toys. This is an important step to calm the situation and to make sure the cat is safe and protected from the other cat(s).
3) For the first week, the only contact the cats should have is batting at each other’s paws at the bottom of the door. That’s it.
4) During this week, put a clean towel into this room and give your other cat(s) a clean towel to rest on as well. After the cats have slept on the towels for a while and their scents are on them, switch towels so both cats can adjust to each other’s scents. Do this towel switching once or twice a day.
5) Also during this week, allow your existing cats to explore your new cat’s room when he’s not in it. This is another way for the cats to get used to each other’s scent.
6) Once a week has passed, put the cats in their separate carriers and place the carriers a couple feet apart, facing each other. There may be some hissing or growling, but that’s normal. As they become more used to seeing each other, move the carriers a little closer together. Keep doing this carrier technique once or twice a day for a couple days.
7) Now they’re ready to meet again. I usually like to start with the two cats in a carrier on opposite sides of the room and then let them both out. Be sure someone is there at all times to supervise them very closely at this point. There can be a variety of reactions. Hiding. Hissing. Growling. Sniffing each other. Swatting. If they start to fight, break it up by clapping loudly and then distract them with toys or a couple treats. If it goes (relatively) well, let them spend no more than an hour together. If things aren’t going well, put the new cat back in his safe room and let them meet again like this tomorrow.
If this re-introduction technique doesn’t go well and the cats are still aggressively fighting after a couple days, you will have to start the entire re-introduction technique again and go through each step much more slowly over the period of several weeks.
Cats that used to get along are now fighting
There can be several things that cause formerly friendly cats to begin fighting with each other or not getting along. Here are some of the most common:
If one or both cats begins feeling territorial about their favorite lounging spot, their litter box or food bowls, this can cause fights. If you notice fights that seem to come from one or more of these things, you’re going to need to do some separation.
Feed the cats in separate areas or even separate rooms if necessary. Make sure you have enough litter boxes in the house and put one of them in a different place in case one of the cats has claimed a particular litter box as his own. See that each cat has his own resting spot, whether that’s a bed, cat tree or just a blanket of their own.
If the fights are particularly bad (i.e. fur is flying or blood is drawn), be sure to keep the cats in completely separate rooms unless someone’s around to keep an eye on them. If you go out, make sure they’re separated.
Cats instinctively hide illness as a means of survival, so it can often be very difficult to know if your cat is sick. Sometimes, by the time they show actual symptoms, they’re extremely ill. If one of your cats is ill, they may be more short-tempered and begin fighting with another cat they previously got along with. Also, multiple cats in a household form a hierarchy, so if your ‘alpha cat’ is ill, another cat may be fighting to take over its spot.
Be aware of any signs of illness such as changes in eating or drinking habits, litter box habits or energy level. If you aren’t sure if you have a sick cat, you should definitely take them to the veterinarian to rule out illness as a cause of the new fighting.
Just like people, some cats just don’t get along for whatever reason. Maybe you have an energetic young cat or kitten that’s constantly annoying your older, more sedate cat. Or two females that just can’t seem to get along. These types of conflicts can be temporary or on-going and the best thing to do is make sure the cats have as much of their own space as possible. Separate areas to eat, sleep and use the litter box can sometimes diffuse the situation.
Give each cat plenty of individual attention and find ways to distract them so they have something to do other than fight. Try various cat toys such as the Bergen TurboScratcher, springs or whatever types of toys your cats are most interested in.
If the fights are extreme enough that you fear they’ll injure each other, put the cats in separate rooms at night or when you leave the house.
It’s possible that some cats may never quite get along, but usually they will learn to accept each other if you try some of the ideas mentioned above. It takes time and patience in some cases, but you should see at least some improvement.
Here are some things to try when cats aren’t getting along…
- Make sure each cat has plenty of his or her own space. This means putting their food and water bowls, litter boxes and beds in separate areas.
- Don’t give the cats catnip. It can increase aggression in some cats.
- Have plenty of their favorite cat toys around to distract them from fighting.
- Make time they spend together is as pleasant as possible. Encourage fun activity such as playing or giving each one a treat.
- If you have a big cardboard box, open both ends and put it on the floor from them to crawl and play in. It's rare to find a cat that doesn't have fun with cardboard boxes.
- Give each cat plenty of individual attention.
- Don’t leave the cats alone together when you go out until you're confident they're not going to get into a serious fight.
- Have some Feliway on hand. Feliway is a product that replicates a pheromone that can calm cats during times of stress or fighting. It comes in both a spray and an electric diffuser. It can be purchased at most pet stores and online.
- If your cat(s) are not spayed or neutered, they will be more prone to aggressive behavior. Unless you breed cats, consider having your pet neutered.
With a little effort on our part, most cat conflicts can be resolved, or at least reduced to the point where the cats learn to tolerate each other without resorting to serious fights.
I hope these tips have been useful to you, and your cats will soon learn to enjoy each other’s company.
- 5 Tips to Stop Cats from Fighting : Cat Health 101 : Animal Planet
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