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Cat Aggression: How to Stop

How to Stop a Cat Fight

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Clawing Cat

A cat offering a paw, claws extended, is a warning.

Photo Credit: © Amy Shojai, CABC

Stopping cat aggression sounds impossible but is easy to do. Nothing sounds quite so intimidating as the screeching of cats as they hurl kitty-curses and rev up for battle. Savvy owners know to keep their distance or risk being bitten by the big-mean-stray who's terrorizing Fluffy-kins. More likely, if you intervene incorrectly, you'll be attacked by Fluffy-kins herself when she redirects aggression toward you.

The temptation is to join in the scream-fest, but you should avoid shouting or yelling. That can escalate the cats' arousal and make it worse. Most of the noise is for show anyway, and oftentimes you can (and should!) stop the aggression before the teeth and claws make contact.

How to Stop A Cat Fight

  • Interrupt the hissing. Use a favorite toy, such as a fishing pole lure or flashlight beam, and don't wait until the cats fight. The earlier you intervene, the quicker the cats will chill. Choose toys that keep you a safe distance away from teeth and claws.
  • A loud sudden noise like an air horn or hiss of aerosol spray may work to startle the combatants apart.
  • When noise doesn't stop them, water usually cools the heat. It doesn't take much. Toss a half cup of ice-cold water at them, or use a squirt gun. Aim for their bodies and avoiding the face and eyes.
  • If the fight happens in the house and you can't throw water, toss a thick blanket or towel over top of both cats. That gives them something else to bite and claw and usually separates the pair.
  • Wrap up the aggressor cat in the blanket to protect yourself, and bundle him into a room alone for a time out. It takes cats 24 to 48 hours to settle down after arousal. Just the sight of each other can start the fight all over again. Seeing YOU or being touched could prompt redirected aggression so stay away and don't attempt to comfort either cat until they've had time to chill.
  • Catfights may trigger other cats to join in, or fight among themselves. If you have more than a pair, be sure all the cats seem calm. If not, separate each cat into a different room or crate until all have settled.

Felifriend Pheromone Fun

One fight predicts future altercations. In other words, if your kitties wrangle once, chances are they'll get their tails in a twist in the future, too. It may be worthwhile to use body chemistry to "trick" the cats into thinking they're friends.

Dr. Patrick Pageat, a researcher in the field of pheromones, figured out how to create a commercial pheromone product called Feliway to help cats feel safe in their territory by using the F3 fraction of the feline cheek pheromone. The F2 fraction communicates information about sexual behavior, and the F4 fraction translates as friend.

This fraction of the cheek pheromone is used to identify friend from foe, and the product Felifriend is marketed in Europe to counter cat-on-cat aggression especially during new cat introductions. The product communicates to all the cats that they already know the individual, have a good relationship, and don't need to fight. Felifriend currently is only available in Europe and should help enormously with cat-on-cat aggression.

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