How to Stop Pet Cats Fighting

Pet cats often fight amongst each other when they are sharing a household. Cats are very territorial, and can be aggressive by nature. Here's what you should know about feline aggression and how to stop your pet cats from fighting with one another.

Types and Causes of Feline Aggression

Cats fight for a number of different reasons. Cats are hunters by nature, and they express this through their play; often, when pet cats fight, it's because a game they were playing got out of hand. Play-fighting helps cats sharing a household establish a social hierarchy, but when one cats get too excited during play-fighting, they can easily push things too far.

Cats also fight out of sexual aggression; even cats who have been neutered or spayed sometimes do this. Territorial aggression is most likely to occur when a new cat is introduced into the household. Cats will also redirect aggression onto other cats or owners, when they are deeply alarmed or upset by an event or situation.

Female Feline Aggression

Female cats can be just as aggressive as male cats, sometimes even more so. A female cat with kittens can become very aggressive if she feels her kittens are threatened. Female cats may also "turn" on their older kittens, or other younger cats in the household, especially if they are male. This behavior replicates the behavior seen among the large cats of the wild; when male lions become adolescents, it falls to the lionesses of the pride to drive those males away, so that they will find and mate with unrelated females.

Handling Feline Aggression

If you have more than one cat in your house, they're almost guaranteed to fight amongst one another occasionally. Play-fighting can be allowed to continue, as long as the cat's aren't hurting one another. Pet cats play-fight for fun, and to practice their hunting skills; if your cats are "fighting" but seem to be having fun, you can leave them to it.

If your cats are genuinely fighting, they will hiss and growl at one another. They'll bite and scratch, and, if the aggression is sexual, one cat may try to mount the other. You shouldn't try to physically pull the cats apart with your bare hands, because you could get scratched or bitten yourself.

Squirt your fighting pet cats with water from a bottle to distract them. This stops most fights between pet cats. If a water bottle doesn't work, toss a pillow at the cats; this can distract the aggressive cat long enough for the other cat to escape. 

Redirected aggression may require you to remove your cat from the upsetting situation. Redirected aggression occurs most often when your cat can't react to the real source of his aggression, so he "takes it out" on another cat, or you. If your cat is fighting out of redirected aggression, wrap him in a thick towel and remove him to a quiet place until he calms down.

Medication for Feline Aggression

If your efforts to stop your pet cats from fighting don't work, a veterinary behaviorist can recommend behavior-modifying drugs. Valium, amitriptyline or busprione are prescribed to cats. Holistic remedies, such as flower essences, can also help.