Ever had multiple cats that just don’t quite get along? You’ve likely heard those awful sounds and dealt with scratches of your own. So what can you do? How do get them to break it up, chill out, or heck, maybe even like each other?
There are a number of different reasons cats might not get along, the most common being under socialized. A lack of good experiences with other cats early in their life might make a cat predisposed to reacting strongly when introduced to another. To them they don’t see that this new cat could be a friend or a good thing, it represents a disruption to their safe, comfortable environment and routine. Cats prefer a nice cozy consistent life over change, especially when it comes to ‘their’ territory.
Sometimes cats get along just fine until something unpleasant happens like fireworks set them on edge and become associated with the other cat. Sometimes the relationships of the cats will change as they age. Cats may display maternal aggression if they’ve recently had kittens, but this should go away when the kittens are weaned. Play aggression is also common for kittens and younger cats, engaging in stalking, sneaking, pouncing and other aggressive play. All feline play is based around these mock aggressive moves. You can tell the aggression is play aggression when it’s reciprocal, they change roles (hunter and prey) their ears are forward and while their claws may be out, they don’t do damage. Look at their bodies, do they lean forward or back? Forward suggests they’re playing.
Note: Before we go much further, if this change in behavior is sudden and comes along with unusual symptoms, physical or behavioral (such as your cat stops eating) see your vet right away.
How to Control Your Cats
Well, first of all, let’s go ahead and ditch that idea of ‘control’ right out the window. The best we can hope for when it comes to felines is ‘managing.’ With enough work and good luck you might just end up in a good situation for your feline friends. Here are some actionable tips to help settle the anger and calm the storm!
Interrupt Fights – For one, never let the cat’s ‘fight it out.’ That’s not how cats resolve issues and allowing it happen will just let the cats get worse. The first thing to do is to interrupt the aggression with a loud clap or spray from a spray bottle.
Spay/Neuter – If your cats are intact(haven’t been spayed or neutered), they may be more prone to aggression especially males so get that handled if able.
Separate Their Resources – Cats can feel competitive and behave aggressively if they think their resources are at risk. You can reduce that competition by providing multiple food bowls, litter boxes, and beds in different areas throughout the home. By keeping them identical the cats won’t necessarily begin to associate any particular one as ‘theirs,’ and having them spread throughout the home provides easy access.
Provide Perches – Cats love to be high, hide behind or under furniture. Make sure there are plenty of different perches throughout your home so they can spread out as they please and ease their feelings of being territorial.
Let Them Be – If your cat is aggressive, don’t try to calm them. What they want is to be left alone so give them some space. Trying to get them to settle down will annoy them best case, worst case they could redirect their anger towards you!
Try Pheromones – Some folks swear by the success they have with using pheromones. The thought behind it is these pheremones mimic cat odors that may help ease the tensions. Thankfully these pheromones are imperceptible to human nostrils so you won’t have to deal with any strange odor as you work through your cat aggression.
Reward desired behavior – No matter what else you do, remember to reward the behavior you want to see your cats exhibit. Praise them or give them treats to reward them when you see them being friendly with each other.
If all of that fails, well, some cats just can’t live together peacefully, unfortunately. If you find that nothing you do puts them at ease, it may be more kind to separate the cats. The constant stress or anxiety from tension and fighting isn’t conducive to a well life.