How to Stop Cats From Fighting

Dr. Matheys is a veterinarian and guest blogger for cat insurance provider, Pets Best Insurance. 

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise,Idaho. Today I’ll be answering a question about cat health from a comment posted on the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page.

Ann says:  “I have two neutered, male cats that have been living together for a little over two years now, but sometimes they fight like two strange cats that just met outside. Is there anything I can do to stop the fighting?”

There are different forms of aggression, and sometimes there can be more than one type of aggression going on at the same time. Most often, in cases like yours, it’s probably what we call territorial aggression. We commonly see that when a new cat is added to the household. Typically, the mistake that most people make is that they introduce the cats too quickly. The number one rule is when you are bringing a new cat into the household, you want to introduce him or her to the other cats very slowly.

In your case, Ann, you’re probably going to have to go back to the beginning, almost like you’re totally reintroducing kitties. Also, in your case, because it’s been going on for such a long time, you probably are going to need to use some type of a behavioral drug with one or both of the cats. Your veterinarian can help you decide which drug might be best in your situation.

When the new cat comes into the household, you want to make sure those two cats are separated. The new cat goes into a room by itself, making sure the kitty has its own separate feeding dish, water bowls, litter box, toys, things of that sort. The resident cat can stay in the rest of the household.

Then you want to start introducing the cats to each other by letting them get to know each other through the sense of smell. For instance, you want to change out blankets, toys, things of that sort. This may take anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks or longer.

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When it seems like the cats have settled down a little bit, then we want to start introducing the cats to one another for short time periods. So you start in the kitchen, opposite ends, when they’re good and hungry, and you feed them. Every day after, as you’re feeding them, you move them just slightly closer together until they are able to eat side-by-side without causing any sort of a ruckus.

Once they seem comfortable eating next to each other, then you can actually start letting them out loose, but under supervision, and see how they react.

Some of the things I like to use are pheromones. Pheromones are the feel-good scent that kitties leave on things when they rub their faces against objects. We have found how to synthetically produce this, and we have found that it can help to relax kitties in any sort of a stressful situation.

You might not ever be able get them to really like each other, but we’re just trying to get them to, at least, tolerate each other and live peaceably together. Good luck with your situation.

If you have any other comments, please post them below in the comment section, or visit Pets Best Insurance Facebook page. See you next time.

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  • Jennifer

    I have a similar situation. I have two adult male neutered cats who grew up together. They are both about 7 years old now and used to be best friends. One was recently diagnosed with diabetes and has been on a special diet and insulin shots twice daily. The non-diabetic one constantly hisses at him and starts fights. Usually, the diabetic one just swats him in the face and leaves it at that, but often they get into screaming, clawing, fur-flying all-out brawls. They have never done this before. Could my diabetic cat’s scent have changed that drastically with the insulin and diet? They used to be such lovers together. Every once in a while, they will play together, but then they go back to fighting. Any ideas?

    • Linda

      Jennifer, the scent might be what’s causing the fights, have you asked your vet about it? You could try wiping the non-diabetic cat with a damp towel then wipe the diabetic cat with the same towel, sort of transfering scent. Or wipe the diabetic cat after the shots to remove a strange scent. I have to do that whenever any of my cats go to the vet or they will fight when they get home. I doubt the diet is doing it. I have 2 females that will fight like that whenever they see/smell/hear another cat in the area (out a window, by the screen door, etc). It’s transfered aggression, they can’t get at the other cat so the hit whoever is next to them. So I close the blinds when I’m not home.


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