Dealing with Inter-cat Aggression

| October 22, 2021

We never want our cats to fight. We want them to be playing and giving each other baths. So what can we do when our cats aren’t on the same page?

Consider a vet visit

There are many things that can contribute to a tense relationship between cats, such as environmental changes (e.g., recent vet visits, renovation, moving), boredom, competition over resources, or previous negative experiences. Before you explore any of these, however, you should visit the vet.

This is because there could be underlying medical issues at play. Spaying or neutering can dramatically reduce a host of behavioural and medical conditions. Your vet can also run tests to rule out any other chronic underlying conditions that may be leading to the aggressive behaviour.

Enrich the home

Think of enrichment as providing your cat with an outlet. With an outlet, they can channel their energies which can turn into a range of more desirable behaviours.

Examples of feline home enrichment include:

  • Hiding opportunities: gives the “victim” cat a safe place to go when things get tense.
  • Climbing opportunities: like hiding spots, these provide “victim” cats with an escape. They can also provide active cats more opportunities to expend their energy.
  • Toys and feeding puzzles: again, both of these can keep active cats engaged, keeping them from pursuing “victim” cats out of boredom.

Provide enough resources and space

Sometimes, the source of aggression is competition for valuable resources (resting spots, litter boxes, food bowls). Introducing multiples of each resource can help eliminate the need for your cats to “guard” them.

It is also important to place these items or resources in separate parts of the home. For example, if one cat is guarding a litter box and not letting another cat use it, putting a second litter box next to the first will not solve this problem. Instead, add a second litter box in another part of the home.

When the aggression starts

Stay calm and very gently block the aggressor cat from their intended target with a thick blanket. Then usher them into a quiet, dark room where they can calm down. Do not punish the behaviour! This will make the situation worse, both in the short and long term.

Feline Behaviour Consultations

There are other methods for reducing inter-cat aggression, such as reintroductions, and “interrupting” aggression between cats. You can learn these and a lot more through our Problem Solving and Behaviour Modification Consultations.