Like many people, a few of our pets are rescues – with three cats from shelters and vets, as kittens. Three cats along with dogs, sheep and rabbits is a lot, yes, but we don’t have any regrets. Well, not too many regrets. Occasionally we get That Look from people who clearly think we’re nuts for having so many critters, and yes, there have been some losses in the furniture line we’d like to go back in time and avoid. But when you have multiple cats curled up on top of you at night, all those other problems tend to go away.
One problem that isn’t going away is inter-cat hostilities. Our guys get along most of the time, but as anyone who has multiple cats in their home knows, fights are going to break out. These range from the ears-back, pawing the air non-fights to knock-down, drag-out screaming and hissing fights that have two kitties rolling on the floor like a bunch of felons in the Yard. Getting your cats to love one another may not always be a realistic possibility, but there are a few approaches you can take to slow down or limit the amount of blood-letting that goes on in your house when you have more than one cat.
It’s difficult to remember that cats are operating on instinct, and don’t understand the world the way we do. They have no sense of moral right or wrong. Fighting cats can be frustrating because you don’t understand why they go after each other and why they never learn their lesson or mind you. But don’t let that frustration turn into corporal punishment: Your cats are innocents and will never understand anything beyond a new fear of you.
Instead, when fights break out there are two tried-and-true strategies: Water bottles and noise. Cats dislike getting sprayed with a water bottle, so this is a perfect negative consequence to aggression they will slowly learn. If every time they get into an altercation they are blasted with a spray of cold water, they will eventually connect the two. If nothing else, the sight of the water bottle alone will then become a deterrent. Noise is also your friend: Learn to spot the signs of incipient cat fights and when they begin, while you’re fetching the water bottle, stamp your feet and shout. This will usually startle your furry wards and stop the fight in its tracks.
Learn the Warning Signs
Cat fights don’t simply appear out of nowhere; they always have clear signals. If you pay attention it will become clear who fights with who and who is the aggressor. Keeping your eye on the villains will give you some warning. Crying and threat-poses such as arched backs, flattened ears, and “pounce position” will also be a sign of trouble to come – when you see these behaviours, distract the cats with something non-threatening, like a treat or a toy or simply a scratch behind the ears.
Reward Good Behaviour
A long-term strategy for cat fighting is to engage the combatants you’ve identified in friendly activities. Feed them together, play with them together. Taking two cats that are always going after each other and giving them calm, happy times in each other’s company can go a long way to defusing aggression before it turns into a screaming, scratching fight that wakes you up in the middle of the night.
About the author: Jackie McLellan and her family are based in Scotland and are animal mad, living with dogs, cats, rabbits and sheep. Jackie breeds beautiful Australian Labradoodle puppies and regularly has labradoodle puppies for sale. Thankyou Jackie for your lovely post, we love anything Australian (thats where we’re from!), not just cats. 🙂