A cat that is happy and well-adjusted as the only cat in a household may become agitated when another cat is introduced. For many pet parents, this behavior is puzzling and upsetting. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent cat-on-cat violence and help to keep everyone in the household safe.
Understanding Feline Aggression
In order to prevent feline aggression, it is important to understand where it comes from. Cats are deeply territorial animals and may lash out when they feel threatened. This is common when a new cat enters the household or when a strange cat wanders into the yard. Cats may react to territorial violations by chasing the offending cat, attacking it, hissing from a distance or even bluff charging.
A subset of territorial aggression is male-on-male aggression. This occurs when two adult male cats meet and engage in a conflict. This conflict can be about the right to a female, territory or simply to establish dominance. Although these fights are more common among unneutered males, neutered house cats are at equal risk of male-on-male aggression and should be monitored carefully while in the presence of other male cats.
Preventing Feline Aggression
Cat fights are dangerous and it is important for pet parents to do everything in their power to prevent cat-on-cat violence. If you have a cat that has never before been violent but has recently become aggressive, a vet check is in order. Cats may display sudden aggressive behavior in response to injury or illness.
If all clear on the health front, consider talking to a pet behaviorist about your cat’s sudden behavior. A specialist may be able to help you uncover the cause of the aggression.
The next step to preventing feline aggression is to avoid it. If you know your cat has a tendency to be aggressive, don’t introduce another cat into the household under the assumption that they will become friends.
If you are faced with a situation where it appears two cats are going to fight, follow these steps:
Do Not Touch The Cats: This is very important. If you intervene by grabbing one of the cats, there is a high chance that the cat will become aggressive toward you.
Make Some Noise: The best way to break up tension that is on the verge of a cat fight is by making a sudden noise like clapping your hands. The surprise will likely be enough to break the tension and send both cats on their way.
Do Not Punish the Cats: Cats do not take well to punishment and trying to punish one or both parties for their involvement in the fight will generally backfire and may create more cat-on-cat violence down the road.
Unfortunately, cat-on-cat violence is a reality for many pet parents. Keep in mind that the best thing you can do with an aggressive cat is to have his health checked by a veterinarian and focus on avoiding kitty conflict.
It is easier to avoid feline aggression when it is a strange cat encroaching on your cat’s space than it is when two of your own cats become aggressive towards one another. Read our article for some great tips on what to do if your cats don't get along.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian