Anyone who has ever shared a home with multiple cats has at some point experienced a cat conflict in the home. In some cases, quarrels are isolated or short-lived, but in other cases there are persistent problems between cats.
“Cats are quite territorial beings by nature, and territorial aggression can occur if they feel like an intruder has entered their territory and is competing for resources,” says Dr. Jamie Richardson, Chief Medical Officer at Small Door Veterinary.
Signs of territorial conflict between cats often take the form of “hissing, loud meowing, stalking, chasing, hitting, or preventing the other cat from accessing locations,” explains Dr. Richardson.
How To Reduce Conflict Between Cats
While conflict between cats can be natural at home, there are strategies that you can use to reduce conflict and / or help your cats develop more appropriate and less confrontational relationships with one another. Below are detailed step-by-step tips to help your cats feel more secure in their home space.
“Make sure each cat has its own territory and keep them temporarily separate. Provide a “safe space” for each of your cats to relax from stressors. A quiet, dark place made of cardboard boxes or sheets over chairs can work well. If the conflict is severe, you may want to keep each cat in a completely separate room. Make sure your performers can live comfortably in their own space for a few days and have all the essentials in that one room: food, water, bedding, a litter box, scratching post, and toys.
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Reintroduce each cat slowly. Start with their scents – use a shared towel, brush, or other object between your pets so they can recognize each other’s scents and get used to them. Then slowly let them spend time together. Gradually increase the duration of their interactions until they get used to living in the same room. Introduce and separate your pets until they are safe to coexist.
Provide custom bowls, litter bins, toys, and attention. Even after your cats have had a good interaction, make sure they each have their own food and water bowls, litter boxes, toys, scratching posts, and perches. You should also spend a lot of time playing with and petting each cat to make sure they don’t get jealous of the other.
Continue to Feed Cats Separately: Feeding cats in direct line of sight can create fear and intimidation and discourage the “victim” cat from eating. Therefore, you will likely need to feed your cats in different rooms for a longer period of time (even after they have coexisted without conflict) to avoid food aggressions.
Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. If your cats exhibit good, non-confrontational behavior towards one another, reward them with lots of positive reinforcement – praise, pets, and treats. This will help solidify the idea that good behavior brings good things and encourage them to repeat that behavior.
Use pheromone sprays or diffusers. Pheromones are natural chemicals released by cats (as well as other animals and people) in response to certain emotions or stimuli. Other cats can smell these pheromones and take them as messages. For example, happy or relaxed cats release positive pheromones, while a frightened or territorial cat may release negative pheromones to warn other cats nearby. Pheromone sprays and diffusers mimic the positive or “lucky cats” pheromones and can help calm stressed or anxious cats by reassuring them that everything is fine in their vicinity. You can use sprays on bedding, scratching posts, and other public areas, and plug pheromone diffusers into wall outlets around your home and near the litter box.
Consider increasing each cat’s territory by adding more vertical space. If you live in a smaller apartment and are concerned that your cats may not have enough individual space, there are several ways to vertically increase their territory, such as: B. Scratching posts, cat racks, and window bars (provided they are safe and there is no chance the cat will fail).
Provide places to hide all over your cats’ territory. Make sure your cats have enough places to retreat and hide when they feel fearful or threatened. Darkened areas like cardboard boxes and / or rooms wrapped in fabric work well. “
While conflict between cats is not uncommon, it can be a sign of illness. Dr. Adam Miller, DVM with the internal medicine team at NorthStar VETS, says if you notice a shift in relationships between cats, it’s a good time to take your cats to a vet appointment.
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