With three cats in my house, I’ve seen my fair share of cat fights.
Before moving to Minneapolis, it was only ever Percy and Oli together. With Percy being a male and Oli being a female, the aggression level was always pretty low. They grew up together and would sometimes bat paws at each other, but for the most part, their relationship was smooth.
When the cats and I moved up north, we moved into a house with my boyfriend who already had a cat, William.
Introducing our cats was a bit rough, and though we tried to make the transition slow and painless, William and Percy still have some trouble getting along.
They are much better now, after a year of living together, but not before many fights, claws, and hisses.
Here are some techniques and tips that have helped manage the cat fighting in my house.
Why Are Your Cats Fighting?
Cats fight for a few different reasons. They are territorial animals, and a lot of the fighting is caused over defending territory.
In my case, that was an obvious cause of the fighting. There were other issues that came along with the fighting, like marking territory through spraying, and each cat established places in our home that seemed like their “safe zone.”
Percy, for example, would hang out in the bathroom because that’s where he felt most safe.
Some cats are also just naturally more aggressive than others, as well. They may be channeling their aggressive energy into fights with their housemates, or simply playing a little too rough.
Before attempting to stop the cat fights, it’s a good idea to figure out their source.
How to Break Up Cat Fights
Provide a Distraction For Your Cats
While your natural instinct may be to immediately jump in and pull them apart, this could end badly. Your cats are already feeling aggressive–and those claws are definitely out. Trying to punish your cats by yelling at them or pushing them away is only going to cause scratches for you.
Instead, the best course of action is to distract your cats. Bring out the cat toys and get the to engage in play together. The goal is to use that aggressive energy for something more productive.
If you can tire your cats out, they won’t have the energy to fight. Getting them to play together also teaches them to associate each other with more positive things.
When the Cats are Distracted, Separate Them
Once you have distracted your cats, grab one cat and put them in a separate room. Make sure the room is equipped with a litter box and food and water, and give both the cats the time and space to calm down.
Most fights are about territory, so putting them in an isolated place without any other person or cat invading their space gives helps them feel safe and comfortable.
How to Prevent Cat Fights Before They Happen
Provide More Vertical Space
The key to keeping cats from fighting is to make sure they all have their own space.
Fights often happen in places of your house that are cramped and make it hard to avoid each other. Adding cat trees or shelves adds a whole new pathway, making it possible for two cats to be in the same place while completely missing each other.
The problem spot in my house is the hallway. It’s not much of a hallway, to be honest, but more of a small, square space between all of the rooms. I added a multi-leveled cat tower in this space and it immediately reduced the number of cat fights.
Jackson Galaxy calls this “catification,” and it’s all about maximizing your space to make your cats the most comfortable.
Reintroduce Your Cats to Each Other
If your cats aren’t getting along, or at least coexisting peacefully, the problem may be that they weren’t introduced properly.
Place each cat in a separate room with a door between them. Allow them to smell each other without any risk of contact. After a while, you can open the door and add a smaller barrier, like a baby gate, that lets the cats see each other without being able to touch.
Once it seems like the cats are coexisting without paying much attention to the other, you can remove the gate and give them free rein of the house.
Add More Litter Boxes and Food Dishes
The cat fights may be stemming from a shortage of resources. If your cats don’t feel like there is enough food dishes or litter boxes, they will fight for control.
You should have at least one food and water dish per cat, and they should be placed in separate parts of the house, not right next to each other. Give your cats enough space to feel like they can eat without feeling threatened.
You should also have one more litter box than the number of cats you have. They should be placed in accessible locations that have plenty of exits. Potty time is a vulnerable time for cats, and they need to feel safe and secure.
I have three cats, and we actually have five litter boxes scattered throughout the house. Each cat has their favorite boxes to use, and it has helped relieve some of the tension.
If All Else Fails, Try Pheromones
If you have tried everything and the fighting persists, you can try calming pheromones to relieve anxiety. There are pheromone collars, as well as plug-in pheromone releasers that may help calm your cats.
The problem could also be health related. Taking your cat to the vet could reveal a mental health problem that could be treated.
Have you tried any of these techniques? What has worked or not worked for you?