How to Control Play Aggression Directed at Another Cat
- Safe zones. Make sure the environment is set up so each cat has a safe place to retreat. Cat trees, elevated cat walkways, perches and tunnels add to the feeling of safety. In some cases the cats may need to be totally separated and reintroduced if one cat is playing too aggressively and the victim cat seems completely fearful of any form of interaction.
- Play therapy. Conduct individual interactive play sessions with each cat to help build confidence and release stress. This also teaches each cat the correct way to play. Set up a consistent schedule so playtime occurs at least twice a day.
- Group play. If you want to conduct a play session with both cats at the same time, don’t use one toy or else it can lead to intimidation. Hold an interactive toy in each hand so no one has to compete for the prize. If there’s another family member available to help with the game then that would make it even easier to do a group play session.
- Proper new cat introduction. When introducing an additional cat into the household, take the time to do a proper introduction by placing the new kitty in a sanctuary room. Gradually introduce the cats to each other through positive associations. Don’t just put the cats together and expect them to work it out.
- Use redirection. When cats are playing together and you suspect things are starting to get out of hand, distract them with something positive such as tossing a little toy nearby or rolling a ping pong ball across the floor.
- Food enrichment on the menu. Puzzle feeders are a wonderful way to distract cats from each other. When you have more than one cat, just make sure you have set up several puzzle feeders so there’s more than enough for everyone.
- Is it just rough play? Keep in mind that sometimes what appears to be fighting between cats may actually just be normal play. An aggressive display usually involves vocalizations such as growling or hissing and facial expressions will look aggressive with ears flattened back. We sometimes make the mistake of labeling normal rough play as aggression. If you’re in doubt, don’t yell at the cats to separate them but instead, toss a toy or two as a fun distraction.