How To Deal With Conflicts Between Cats?

The cat is a territorial animal, but it can tolerate the presence of its fellow cats on its land. Nevertheless, it is not systematic and some small felines can not avoid conflict situations. It is necessary to say that in the cats, the reasons of confrontation are multiple. Resources, territory, sexuality, fear, unsuitable games, health… the opportunities to confront each other are numerous and many pet owners wonder what to do.

  1. Each cat should have their own space
  2. Make sure every cat has their own litterbox…plus one extra
  3. Provide entertainment
  4. Give each cat separately attention
  5. Let them decide when to interact with each other
  6. Don’t punish the cats in case of a conflict  

Whether you have one cat or multiple cats, there’s always a chance that they’ll get into fights. If your cats are constantly fighting, it can be frustrating and worrisome. In this post, we’ll discuss some tips for preventing and dealing with conflicts between cats.

Reasons for Conflicts

Most people think of cats as independent, aloof creatures. While it is true that they are often more independent than other domesticated animals like dogs, cats are actually quite adaptable creatures. This means that they can easily learn to coexist with other cats, even in the wild. In fact, aggression between cats is relatively rare.

However, cohabitation conflicts are relatively common. This means that if you have multiple cats in your home, you may want to consult a cat behaviorist to help them learn to get along. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with a bubbly house full of hissing and fighting felines.

Cats and Conflicts

As a general rule, cats do not like conflicts and confrontations. They will usually try to avoid it by walking away or hiding. It will only escalate into a real fight if there is no other way out. If two cats are fighting, it is important to intervene carefully. Do not try to grab them or break them apart, as this could result in being scratched or bitten. Instead, make a loud noise (clapping your hands or shouting) to startle them and break up the fight. Once they are separated, keep them in different rooms until they have calmed down.

Reasons for conflicts might be:

  1. Resources
  2. Territory
  3. Fear
  4. Inappropriate play
  5. Health
  6. Sexuality

1.     Resources

Cats are very particular creatures, and they can be quite picky when it comes to their resources. Food and water are obviously the most important resources for a cat’s survival, but her litter box, toys, scratching posts and baskets are also resources that are under her control. When a cat has enough resources to meet its needs, with rare exceptions, it will not look elsewhere. And while she may sometimes agree to share them, it’s not uncommon for her to refuse to do so entirely.

This can often lead to conflicts between cats, especially if there is a newcomer in the home. When a cat sees his personal resources being used by someone else, it can trigger a territorial response. The cat may try to assert his dominance by attacking the other cat, or he may simply hide away his food and toys so that the other cat can’t get to them.

2.     Territory

Cats organize their territories according to the resources available and their activities:

  • Rest – the isolation zone
  • Hunting, playing – the activity zone
  • Elimination – the zone of need

In nature, cats have a variety of ways to defend their turf, from temporisation and withdrawal to flat-out flight. But in the confined spaces of our homes, territorial disputes between cats are all too common. Conflicts can arise when one cat intrudes on another’s isolation or activity zone, or when there are sudden changes to the home (new furniture, new smells, etc.).

3.     Fear

Just like us, cats may experience fear in response to loud noises, unfamiliar environments, or mistreatment. When placed in a position where they feel unable to escape, cats may lash out in a violent manner. This is known as redirected aggression, and it is a totally instinctive response. In addition to external factors like loud noises or poor socialisation, internal factors such as anxiety or stress can also contribute to aggressive behavior in cats.

4.     Inappropriate Play

Cats are not born knowing how to play nice. In order to learn how to properly interact with other cats, they need to be socialized. This means they need to be exposed to other cats at a young age so they can learn how to play and behave appropriately. If a cat is not socialized properly, they may retain some aggressive behaviors, such as biting and scratching. Even if these behaviors are not meant to be aggressive, the other cat will often interpret them as such, which can lead to fights. Proper socialization is essential for cats to help them learn how to play nice with others.

5.     Health

When cats become ill, experience pain, or go through hormonal changes, it’s not uncommon for their behavior to change as well. They may become more intolerant of contact and solicitations, and as a result, can become aggressive. While it’s not clear why this is, it’s likely that the discomfort they’re feeling makes them act out in this way.

If you have a cat that suddenly becomes aggressive, it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying medical causes. Once those have been ruled out, there are some things you can do to help your cat feel more comfortable, such as providing them with a quiet place to rest and avoiding forcing them into situations they don’t want to be in.

6.     Sexuality

Male-on-male aggression is a common sight in the animal kingdom, and it’s often sparked by competition for a female mate. When a female is in heat, her presence can trigger a showdown between two males who are vying for her attention.

The aggressive behaviors displayed by the males can range from intimidation tactics to outright violence and these confrontations can be dangerous for both parties involved. In many cases, the male who eventually backs down and flees the scene is the one who sustains the most injuries. Though it may be brutal to watch, male-on-male aggression is simply nature’s way of ensuring that the fittest specimens are able to pass on their genes.

Signs of Conflicts

Cats can be pretty subtle when it comes to expressing their disagreements, but there are certain telltale signs that something is amiss. These include:

  • Hissing
  • Making themselves appear bigger (arching their back and turning sideways)
  • Physically fighting
  • Preventing other cats to get to their food bowl and litter box
  • Doing their business outside the litterbox
  • Unusual grooming and scratching

Sign also can be seen at the “dominated” cat which we, as humans might feel are subtler:

  • Stop eating when another cat enters the room
  • Moving away from their resting spot as soon as another cat enters
  • Withdrawing from the family
  • Excessive sleeping

How to resolve a conflict between cats?

It can be a challenge to keep our cat housemates harmoniously living together, but with some patience and effort it is absolutely possible! Reducing unhealthy conflict to a manageable level for the cats involved will result in an even happier home. Here’s how:

  1. Provide plenty of resources such as food dishes, litter boxes and toys to avoid overcrowding and competition.
  2. Pride a litterbox for each cat…plus one extra
  3. Create a safe place for cats to retreat when they need some alone time, like a cat tree or bed in a low traffic area.
  4. Spend plenty of quality one-on-one time with each cat individually to strengthen your bond and create trust.
  5. Keep interactions between cats positive with treats and toys. This will help keep them from getting stressed or aggressive when in the same space together. Don’t ever punish them for fighting.
  6. Offer stimulating toys and activities to reduce boredom and provide an outlet for pent-up energy.
  7. Make sure all your cats are spayed or neutered to reduce any unwanted mating behaviors.


Nikol Toteva was born into a family with a Saint Bernard and spent her childhood on a farm surrounded by animals. Animals have always been a big part of her life. Her upbringing has created a special place in her heart for animals, which she enjoys writing about. She has worked as a writer in different industries for many years. Nikol has a degree in History and loves to spend time with her cat Napoléon.

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