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Are My Cats Playing or Fighting?

Quote from Beth Stern

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New or Unfamiliar Cats

If you’ve recently added an additional cat to your family, it’s important to do a careful introduction to encourage the cats to form positive associations with each other. If your approach was to simply put the cats together to “work it out” then the wresting and chasing you see is probably aggressive and in no way falls into the category of fun and games.

What to do if Your Cats are Fighting

Let’s start off with what NOT to do and that’s to never get in-between to try to physically separate them bare-handed. This action will almost certainly cause physical injury to you. In addition to injury to your hands and arms, one or both of the cats could leap toward your face. It can also cause the cats to redirect their aggression toward you in a way that changes their behavior toward you even after the fight is over.

A safer way to separate fighting cats is to make a sudden noise to startle them. Bang a pan against the floor, clap two pot lids together, clap your hands or slam a door or drawer.

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If the cats keep going back toward each other, use something safe to block their view of each other so you can usher one cat into another room. A large piece of cardboard, a sofa cushion, whatever is handy that will create a barrier.

Once the cats are separated, lower the lights to help them feel a little more hidden which may create calm. Leave the cats separated until their behavior appears back to normal and they are comfortable interacting with you. How long to keep them separated will depend on the severity of the fight. In some cases, a mini reintroduction may need to be done to help the cats learn to feel comfortable with each other again.

Avoid Cat Fights in the First Place

If your cats have a prickly relationship with each other, take the time now to do behavior modification to encourage a more peaceful co-existence. Start by making sure they don’t have to compete for resources. Don’t ask them to share a feeding station or a litter box. Have more than one option available by increasing number and location of all resources. Also, look around the environment and see if it would benefit from being a little more cat friendly. Do you have an adequate number of elevated locations for each cat? Are there hiding places and retreats available for everyone?