Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Cat Fight! What to Do

by | Nov 26, 2019 | Cat Behavior & Care | 7 comments

Do your cats fight? How do you stop a cat fight? And how do you know if the cat fighting turns serious—rather than just kitten play? Shadow-Pup thinks it’s great fun to chase and wrestle with Karma-Kat. We supervise, of course, and interrupt the play should one or the other object. Learn more about how pets play in this post.

If you’re looking for help with dog aggression, go here.

There are many kinds of cat aggression, and many are perfectly normal behaviors. Certainly, it’s not fair to you or the cats to allow cats to fight. Learn how to recognize the potential and reasons behind cat aggression and fighting cats, and what you can do.
cat fight

Karma-Kat and Seren-Kitty used to engage in what appeared to be a catfight on almost a daily basis. From Karma’s standpoint, he wanted to wrestle and play. Seren was not amused, and started yowling at him to “back off, buster!” at the first hint he strolled her direction. Here’s the deal, though…no fur ever flew, nobody was injured, and Seren always came back for more.

Thank cod! 🙂

In fact, I suspect Karma-Kat would enjoy having another cat friend. Maybe I can convince my husband of that fact sometime soon. (Paws crossed, y’all!)


Is The Cat Fight Real?

Cats usually work out their social standing with posturing and kitty bluffs, and neither kitty gets hurt. However, the lowest ranking cat (often an older, or ill kitty like Seren) can become a target picked on by the other felines.

Acting like a victim (slinking around, using submissive body language, hiding) is the equivalent of wearing a “kick me” sign and invites bullies to increase their bluster. Karma weighed more than twice as much as Seren’s 6-lb frame, and at 21 years old when she finally passed, my little Siamese wannabe became quite frail. So these days, Karma spends his play-and-chase time with Bravo, and no longer has to worry about injuring the old lady cat.


Cat Fight & Cat Aggression

Cat-on-cat fights can result from any other kind of aggression, such as redirected aggression, play aggression, and fear aggression. Most intercat aggression involves intact same-gender cats, and gets worse during mating season. That’s why spaying or neutering before a year old decreases or prevents about 90 percent of intercat aggression.



The top reason for a catfight is improper introductions. It’s a cat “rule” that a strange cat should be kicked out of the territory, so just dumping the newbie in with your crew asks for trouble. Once cats experience an altercation, that can predispose them to future fights because the experience was so unpleasant, scary, painful, etc. Think of it this way: the more cats “practice” being aggressive, the more likely they are to simply trigger into a fight at each others’ presence.

Sometimes cats get along fine until suddenly they don’t. That leaves us wondering, what happened? Often this is because cats reach social maturity at two to four years of age when many cats first challenge others for status.

Changes to the cat’s social group (new cat arrives or familiar cat dies/leaves) can prompt an increase in face-offs. Environmental changes such as moving or rearranging cat furniture or feeding/bathroom stations also can cause the fur to fly. Basically, any change in the routine may leave one or more cats so stressed they take it out on each other.

Not enough space predisposes cats to territorial disputes. Cats mark property with cheek rubs, patrolling, and urine marking. Some diabolical felines lure others into their territory and then “discipline” the other cat for trespassing. Feline territorial aggression is notoriously hard to correct, and marking behavior is a hallmark of potential aggression. Outdoor cats are more aggressive on their home turf and the cat closest to home usually wins the dispute.



It’s not all about hissing, screaming and wrestling. Cats use lots of subtle behaviors to control space. I call it “kitty poker” and in the best of all possible worlds, one cat backs down without a fight, and life goes on. Because it’s so subtle, though, you may not recognize power plays until one cat’s had enough and launches into a full-on catfight.

Cats use verbal and silent communication to elevate their status in the eyes of the other felines. They challenge each other with stares, forward-facing body position, hisses and growls, mounting behavior and nape bites, or blocking access to food, play, or attention. Some dominant cats use “power grooming” behavior—energetically licking the other cat—to make her move away.

KarmaSerenSandwichKarma used to simply sit down on top of Seren, sort of a Sumo-Kitty move that made her crazy and prompted her to give up her preferred bed. Yes, Karma’s a bit of a bully.

Never allow cats to “fight it out” as that rarely settles conflicts but makes matters worse. Manage with behavior modification, counter-conditioning, and sometimes drug therapy. The 10 tips below can help ease the strain and in some instances resolve intercat aggression.


  • Reduce the urge to fight by adding more territorial space so the cats don’t have to share climbing, hiding, and perching areas. Create a house of plenty with MORE toys, cat trees, litter boxes and feeding stations than the cats can use all at once.
  • Electronic cat doors that can only be opened by the collared victim cat will allow her to access the entire home yet retreat to a safe area the aggressor can’t follow. These pet doors open in response to the magnetic “key” inside the collar. Look for “keyed” pet doors at pet products stores or on the Internet.
  • Avoid rewarding poor behavior. For instance, giving food or attention to the aggressive cat may calm the angst but actually pays her to be a bully. Instead, catch Sheba before she gets hissy and redirect her behavior with an interactive toy, such as a flashlight beam, to lure her into play in another direction. That can also help her associate good things with the other cat—rather than with being nasty.
  • If the toy doesn’t work, interrupt with an aerosol hiss. Then once the cat walks away and is calm, reinforce the desirable response—acting calm—by offering a treat, toy or attention.
  • Go back to basics and treat the aggressive cats as though introducing them for the first time. It’s best to give the victim cat the choice location of the house, and sequester the bully cat in the isolation room using pet baby gates.
  • If you see no significant improvement within a week, talk with a veterinary behaviorist to see if drug therapy may be helpful. Drugs may help control the aggressive behavior in the bully cat, while decreasing the “kick me” defensive posturing and vocalizing of the threatened cat. Drugs aren’t a cure, but can be a tool that helps training work more effectively.
  • Once the signs of aggression, anxiety, and/or hyper-vigilance fade, begin to gradually expose the cats to each other in very controlled situations. Begin with the cats in carriers, or controlled with a harness and leash, at opposite ends of your largest room or longest hallway.
  • During each session feed cats tasty foods or engage in play. This helps both cats learn to associate each other with fun, positive rewards.
  • Interrupt unacceptable behavior (hisses, growls) with a squirt of compressed air or water gun, and toss small stinky treats to reinforce “good” (calm) behavior. Counter conditioning can take months and require much patience and time.
  • Once cats have learned to tolerate each other and are allowed to freely roam, create at least two feeding stations and two bathroom locations but the 1+1 rule is even better (one for each cat, plus one). Locate them so cats won’t be trapped or surprised when using either.

Thunder and fury with no blood spilled indicate they have excellent bite inhibition. But few fights resulting in lots of damage indicate that at least one of the cats either has very poor inhibitions or seriously wants to kill the other cat. Keep cat claws trimmed to reduce damage. Cats that hate each other and draw blood during fights have an extremely poor prognosis. When all tactics have failed to stop two indoor cats from fighting, then ultimately one cat may need to be placed in a new home or permanently segregated from the other in another part of the house. That’s NOT giving up—it’s making life better for the cats, and you.

Do your cats squabble? How do you manage the disputes? Get more prescriptive advice in the ComPetability: Cats book!

Cat Competability Book Cover

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!




  1. Patricia

    About 3 months ago we noticed my precious 10 year old Macy squinting her right eye. We looked at it and seen nothing. About 3 more days went by and she was still squinting but I felt something under her eye. Definitely time for her to go to vet. Took her and diagnosis was eye infection and ruptured abscess. Oh no! Gave her antibiotics and antibiotic creme. 10 days went by and no better. Actually worse – all whiskers on that side gone and just a large raw meat looking place. Back to vet and more antibiotics and stronger creme. Vet said he was beginning to think this was a sarcoma and if not better in 2 weeks we should consider a biopsy. If sarcoma then nothing could be done but vet had not seen this before. We made the decision to keep doctoring and see if we could get it better. I did not believe it was a sarcoma but thought she might not make it. We had to force feed and water her for a few days. I am very happy to report that after weeks of persistent doctoring the raw meat place is gone, furr has grown back and she now has baby
    stubble whiskers coming back. Termite picks on Macy and they have these boxing matches. Macy does NOT like to be picked on. I think Termite accidentally hooked his claw under Macy’s eye and it set up an abscess. I just THANK GOD it was no sarcoma.

    • Amy Shojai

      Oh my goodness! I’m so glad that Macy is okay. That’s scary, indeed. Those claws can catch a pet (especially the eyes!) and do so much damage.

  2. Susan C. Willett

    I have 4 cats and none of them really like each other. It’s more like tolerate. Over the years, I’ve watched their positions in the kitty hierarchy change, and I can definitely identify with the one cat who wears the “Kick Me” sign. I wish I could speak cat and tell Dawn if she just stopped slinking, the others wouldn’t find it so tempting to chase her. In the meantime, I’ve opened a few previously cat-free rooms to make more space, and have given Dawn a few more places to hang out in her favorite room (my son’s room. He’s her human.) I think it’s helped improve things a bit.
    –Purrs (and wags) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  3. Stacy Mizrahi

    Glad I found this, we are trying to curb some nastiness between out cat and my visting nephews cat.

  4. Martin

    Thank you for this excellent article, I have 4 cats and they regularly “fight” most of the time it’s ok (playful) but sometimes it can be very worrying

  5. Alan

    Thank you for your comments.
    We have situation where one of our 3 friendly cats escaped the garden and was out overnight. We found her again the next day thankfully, however, since then her sister attacks her on sight.
    No reaction to scent, as they room swap, but on sight – not so good.
    We tried drugs, no effect. We tried pheromones – no effect.
    Now we have to segregate completely.
    Definitely challenging, but we will not give up.

    • Amy Shojai

      It can take time for them to get reintroduced. Frustrating, but I applaud your patience!


  1. National Feral Cats Day: Do You TNR? - […] ← Cat Fight! What to Do […]
  2. ASPCA ADOPT A DOG MONTH PROMOTES BIG DOGS IN "BIG LOVE" CAMPAIGN - […] week the blog covered lots of cat-centric topics to prevent cat fights as well as help feral felines, so…
  3. Cat Aggression: 4 Kinds of Cat Aggression, and How To Keep the Peace - […] Cat aggression? Yikes! When a snuggle-puss turns into a snarling ball of claws, owners are at a loss to…
  4. Does My Cat Hate Me? Mend Your Bond with Environmental Enrichment - […] and how environmental enrichment improves our relationships with beloved cats. Yes, this can reduce catfighting between your pets, as…
  5. Cats Chase Feet: Why Cats Target Toes & How to Stop It - […] While this most typically happens with young kittens because they think EVERYTHING is fair game for play-attack, cats chase…
  6. Does My Cat Hate Me book honored by Cat Writers Association - […] and how environmental enrichment improves our relationships with beloved cats. Yes, this can reduce catfighting between your pets, as…
  7. Scent Enrichment for Cats Relieves Stress, Reduces Behavior Problems - […] Indoor cats must share territory and can’t get away from each other, which can lead to cat aggression or…
  8. How to Stop Dog Attacks and Prevent Dog Fights: Keep Small Pets Safe - […] A barking, snarling threat can escalate to attack, especially when the target pet is much smaller, and triggers a…
  9. Kitten Development! Learn About Newborn Kitten DevelopmentAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] Puppies get more attention when it comes to socialization and puppy developmental stages are a bit different. But socialization…
  10. Dog Problems? Cat Concerns? Here's How to Find Pet Behavior HelpAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] I address with articles explaining cat behavior (how to stop meowing, for example, or dealing with cat aggression), as…


Recent Posts

Chiropractic Care & Back Problems: Home Treatment Tips

Chiropractic care…do you use it? In the past I’ve had back issues and got relief after visiting my chiropractor. Chiropractic care works as well in pets as in people, too. In fact, many people with performance dogs regularly schedule chiropractic treatments for their canine athletes..

Cat chiropractic care may not happen as often. After all, felines practice their own form of yoga to stay limber. They’re also much lighter weight than many dogs, and perhaps that puts less strain on their bodies. Read on for some home care techniques that can help your pets.

Love Thrillers? Reminder about Emily Kimelman & Sydney Rye Series

👀 I spy a steal…I’m head-down in the plotting/writing of my next SEPTEMBER & SHADOW THRILLER #7! Lots of “schtuff” keeps sidetracking me from finishing DARE OR DIE, but hope to get the next story into your hands this spring. Meanwhile, here’s a reminder I’ve lined up some more great books for your reading pleasure. If you love crime and thriller stories with dogs (hey, you’re reading mine, right?) check out Emily Kimelman’s gritty Sydney Rye Mysteries, too. Oh my doG, tail-waging grrrreat fun.

The tagline of the series gets me every time: Sydney Rye and her dog exact justice with a vengeance. The dog doesn’t die, but the bad guys do.

I get that question a lot about my September & Shadow thriller series, too. So I borrowed (stole?!) the line from Emily and include it whenever folks ask. I also loved what she says about the dog “aging out” in the book…that it’s FICTION so the dog can live forever! (Heck, I just may steal that, too…don’t hate me, Emily!). Read on for a great deal on her books!

How to Leash Train Cats

Why would you want to leash train cats and confine kitties from stalking and pouncing? Isn’t that mean? Actually, it’s not cruel, but without proper introduction, it can be a wee bit scary. In my Complete Kitten Care book, I call this LIBERATION TRAINING. Teaching your new cat to walk on a leash is a safety issue, but also means they get to venture beyond the confines of your house and into the yard and beyond.

This week during a cat consult, a pet parent asked about training her cat to walk on a leash. It’s always a good time to revisit the notion. An adult cat won’t automatically understand the concept, though, so this blog not only explains the benefits of leash training to YOU, it also helps you purr-suade your cats to get a new leash on life. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Dog Choking & Cat Choking: First Aid & Pet Heimlich Help

Have your pets ever choked on something they chew? Shadow-Pup loves to chew up inedible objects, no matter how much we supervise. Learn how to administer the pet Heimlich to save a life!

When Karma-Kat came to live with us, that put lots of cat toys within Magical-Dawg’s reach. Seren had never been too keen on such things and she was already nine years old when Magic came as a puppy. He loved to swipe Seren’s “sparkle-balls” and ended up with sparkly poop. Once Karma’s toys added to the kitty quotient, the big ol’ dog had a field day seeing how many cat toys he could stuff into his jaws.

Bravo played with rocks. And the new puppy Shadow loves to chew sticks. He’s already got one caught in the roof of his mouth. That’s the perfect opportunity for choking, and a need for the pet Heimlich. I hope that we’ll never need it, though. In case you do, read on!

Do Readers Care Why I Write

Do readers care why writers write? One time at a writer conference, that question was asked and an overwhelming response was, “I write because I HAVE to write, it’s  compulsion, I must write…” And an agent on the panel responded, “They have medication for that now.”

Ba-da-boom. *rimshot*

My audience doesn’t read. Well, unless you count dogs and cats chewing up or (ahem) “being creative” on paper. And of course, cats “read” by sitting on top of the words and absorbing the text through their furry nether regions.

Yvonne DiVita tagged me years ago in the “Why I Write” blog hop. I know Yvonne through the terrific organization she co-founded, but today you’ll find Yvonne at NurturingBigIdeas. As I updated several out-of-date blog posts, I found this one as true today as when first written more than a decade ago. I talk more about my writer’s journey at my website, but here’s the crib notes. *s*

Why Dogs Bark & How to Stop A Dog from Barking

Do you know how to stop dog barking? “Will you please, for the love of doG, stop barking!” When Shadow-Pup joined our family, he and Bravo-Dawg egged each other on. Now that he’s the only dog, he and the cat tease each other and prompt bark-fest and meow-athons.

We love our dogs, but when noisy dogs get revved up, dog barking can drive us nuts. Shadow has a “demand attention” barking problem that shatters glass. He also loves barking at squirrels and tells on Karma-Kat when the cat gets on a counter, and at us when we can’t read his mind.

So what’s the answer–how to stop a dog from barking? The key to stop barking includes understanding why dogs bark.

Scaredy Cat? Teaching Shrinking Violet Shy Cats

Do you have a scaredy cat? Working with fearful and scared cats can be a challenge. Does Sheba hiss at strangers? Does Tom dive under the bed when the doorbell rings? Do your kitties attack other pets (or humans)? What can you do to stop bad behavior if even a mild correction sends the cat into fearful meltdown? Alexa posted her Ask Amy question to my Facebook page, and the answer is in today’s video.

Helping Shy & Scaredy Cats

We often feel that our fur-kids must have been abused and feel bad to make THEM feel bad. But they still need to know limits. One of my favorite ways to train is using positive rewards. Instead of waiting for kitty to scratch the wrong object and then interrupting the behavior–why not REWARD her when she scratches the RIGHT object?

Using kitty clicker training can also build confidence in shy cats by teaching them what happens is in their paws. Here are more tips for dealing with scared cats.

Cat Neatness Freaks: How & Why Cats Groom

Does your cat groom nonstop? We cherish the cat’s fastidious nature but did you ever wonder why cats groom? Neatnik behavior goes beyond looking good. Did you know in this hot weather, cats also groom to stay cool and prevent heatstroke? 

How and why cats groom impacts physical, emotional, and social health. My Karma-Kat even tries to groom his best friend, Bravo-Dawg. The instinct starts during kittenhood and lasts a lifetime. Of course, some cats get dingy when cats don’t groom, and there are reasons for that as well.

Grooming is a barometer of kitty health. Cats that feel bad often stop grooming, or lick and pull fur out due to stress or pain. Consider an unthrifty appearance or “barbering” themselves bald a kitty cry for vet care. Cats often need help in the grooming department—especially longhair beauties. Here are 5 common reasons why cats groom.

Please Fence Me In: Creating Good Neighbors & Keeping Dogs Safe

Do you have a dog fence? Magical-Dawg used to take off after “critters” every so often, racing around the 13-acre spread (or beyond). We eventually trained him to stay with us, even when off-leash. It would have devastated me if Magic disappeared. He was microchipped, but folks would need to catch him first.

Bravo was a very different dog. He was so good off-leash during most morning rambles and didn’t want to go too far away from us. He’d chase and play with his “big-ball” in the field, and baptize every tree and grass tussock. And once he lost his leg, he couldn’t get out the back fenced area even if he’d wanted to.

 Shadow-Pup, though, takes after Magical-Dawg. He’s so small, not even the fenced back area keeps him contained. He also likes to dig, so we needed to address possible escapes. Refer to this post for more help with digging dogs. Until recently, we had to keep him on a leash anytime we went outside, and that’s no fun for him–or for us. A fence is a dog’s best friend!

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to