For many cat lovers, one cat is not enough.
But unless you are adopting a bonded pair who have been together since they were young, adding a second cat to your home can cause trouble.
It may result in your two cats fighting, which is not a fun situation to be in.
Despite this, you’ve decided you want to add a second cat to your home.
So before heading to the Toronto Human Society to pick out your new furry friend, take some tips from a purveyor of Toronto veterinary services on how to best integrate a second cat in your home, and what to do when two cats fight.
Keep reading to learn more.
Why Are My Cats Fighting?
Cats are territorial animals. In the wild, they form strong bonds with their mothers and siblings.
But those who have lived alone for a long time become solitary. They try to protect their territory from unknown animals.
Sometimes cats who have grown up together and were friends at one point can have experiences that disrupt that. This can include injuries during play or traumatic experience associated with the other cat.
This leads them to become mistrustful of others who they once got along with.
Keep reading to learn about different reasons cats might show aggression, and how to curb it, to avoid having to visit the vet because your cats injure each other.
1. Territorial Aggression
You cat is the Ruler of the Castle, the Master of the House – and that’s just how they like it. So when another cat shows up in their territory, they may treat them like an invader.
They may start hissing, swatting, chasing, stalking, and blocking access to places such as the litter box.
2. Defensive Aggression
You cat may become defensive if they’re attempting to protect themselves from an aggressor and they feel backed into a corner.
This may result from threat of punishment, an actual or attempted attack from another cat or animal, or any other actions that make them feel afraid or threatened.
Physical signs of defensiveness include crouching with the legs and tail pulled against the body, flattening the ears and head, and rolling to the side.
These are also signs your cat may attack you if approached.
3. Redirected Aggression
Has your cat ever started acting aggressive for no obvious reason? The cause is likely something you didn’t even notice.
They may have heard a noise in the apartment building hallway. They might have been looking out the window and saw another animal outside.
This is their territory, and how dare another animal intrude on it!
Now you go to pet or play with your cat, and all of a sudden she’s chomping down on your hand for no particular reason. This is likely redirected aggression. The other animal that seemed to pose a threat is no longer nearby, but they still feel threatened.
4. Male Aggression
If you want a second cat, and you already have a male cat, consider adopting a female cat, and vice-versa. Make sure they’re spayed and neutered, of course.
Male cats are more likely to show aggression towards other male cats. This is especially so if they haven’t been neutered.
Depending on the circumstances, this could be because they’re fighting over a female, for status, or trying to defend their territory.
One cat may puff up their fur to look larger and more aggressive. But if the other cat doesn’t back down it could lead to a fight, including biting, swatting, and screaming.
How To Stop A Fight Between Cats
If your cats are fighting, you may think of making a loud noise to distract them, or even to pull out a water gun or spray bottle.
This approach is likely to make the situation worse.
A better option is to try to put an object between them, such as a large piece of cardboard.
If placing a physical barrier between them is too difficult, pick up one cat by the scruff of the neck. This should cause them to release the other one. Your cat’s mother used to carry them around this way, so it makes you seem “parental”.
Don’t try to distract them with food, as they’ll see this as a reward for aggression.
Once you’ve separated the cats, keep them apart for a while to avoid a recurrence and allow for a “cooling off” period.
How To Get Your Cats To Stop Fighting
Getting your cats to stop fighting takes time and space – and a whole lot of each.
When introducing a new cat to your home, start out by giving them each a separate area.
Have food, litter, and water for each cat in their own area, and be sure to give each cat lots of individual attention.
Introduce them slowly – allow them to smell each other and get used to the other cat’s scent.
Feeding them near each other, but still in separate areas, will allow them to associate each other with food. And just like humans, food makes cats happy.
After some time of exposing your cats to each other’s scents, it’s time for a carefully staged face-to-face meeting. Having each cat on opposite sides of a screen or baby gate is one way.
While doing this, continue to shower both cats with lots of attention and praise, so long as they behave. This way, they associate the other cat with positive experiences.
How to Create a Lasting Peace
So you’ve got your cats to stop fighting – how do you maintain this over the long term?
Ensure each cat has their own necessities – they should not have to share food and water dishes, or a litter box.
Make sure your home has a lot of places where your cats can escape to hide when they want to. Corners, caves, shelves, places they can go to and be alone.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is to be sure to have your cats spayed and/or neutered..
Not only will this reduce unwanted aggressive (and amorous) behaviours, it can reduce the risk for cancers, infections, and other diseases.
Call Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Are you looking to introduce a new furry friend to your home? Do you want to know the best age to arrange a spay or neuter appointment to avoid aggressive behaviours in the first place?
Or do you need a little professional help and want to chat about other options, such as pheromone dispenser or anti-anxiety medication.
Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital today, and we’ll do everything we can to help broker a peace treaty in your household.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.