Members of the “Association for Pet Behavioural Counsellors” see more behavioural cases of familiar cats fighting than between unfamiliar ones. This tension within the home may also lead to urine spraying, inappropriate toileting and increased furniture scratching. Some cats may spend their lives hiding away from the other cat and some even leave home. So why does this happen? Why do so many of our feline friends fight?
The answer lies in the fact that cats don’t really need any friends. Humans are sociable animals and crave friends, dogs are sociable animals and crave humans and other dogs. Other sociable animals such as rats crave rats, rabbits crave rabbits and horses crave other horses but our lovely domestic moggy if given the choice would quite happily live in a house with no other cats around at all. Of course they still need a few humans scattered about to open packets of food and supply comfy laps to sit on.
But the human in us can’t quite get our heads around this and we feel sorry for our lonely feline friend so we get them someone to “play” with. Then a few months later our two new best friends are knocking six bells out of each other and there are suspicious yellowy stains on the curtains and a slight smell of cat urine about the place.
So what can we do about this? Well the simplest solution is to just have one cat. However, us humans can’t quite cope with that and kittens are such fun so we often end up with two or more and hope they tolerate each other so we can all live in peace and our home remains smelling sweet.
So how can we tell if they don’t like each other?
Cats often tolerate each other and it might look as if they don’t actually care if the other cat is around or not but there are clues. Watch your cats and make a note of where they go. Use a different coloured pencil for each cat and map where each one prefers to sleep and when. If they are curled up together and greet each other with a tail up and a quick rub you should be ok. However, if they avoid each other like the plague, sit with their backs to each other, eat at different times, use different sleeping and toileting areas you might be living with cats who have learned to tolerate each other and have split the living arrangements. If, however, one has begun to actively seek the other out to attack it or if one is permanently in hiding and you notice the telltale yellowy curtains and a slight urine smell seek qualified help as these cats may be under some degree of confinement stress.
Very often its space they need but don’t worry you will not have to apply for planning permission for an extension to your home. Simply increase the internal space by providing extra cat shelving lined with a non-slip surface, cat gyms, hidey-hole boxes, add more cushions, places for cats to lounge around on and blankets. Clear the top of your wardrobe so your cat can climb up high as cats feel more secure if they can watch from above. Add more litter trays and more food and water bowls and keep them all in separate places and away from each other. Add ping-pong balls, scrunched up sweet papers, catnip and puzzle toys and of course lots of dangly things to play with.
Offer something nice to one cat every time the other walks into the room and ask a significant other to offer something nice to the other cat at the same time. This might help to change their minds about how they feel towards each other but make sure you do this before they start to yowl, hiss, flatten their ears, fluff up their tails, arch their backs or bat at each other.
Do not spray them with water or get cross if they start acting aggressively as they really aren’t going to learn to tolerate each other if they get hit by water or shouted at every time they meet.
Make it a nice experience and remain calm and smiley and one day they might walk just past each other without hissing at each other.