Tips to Help Household Cats Get Along

gray tabbt catThere are several reasons why cat-mates might not be getting along. Cats are territorial and most are under socialized having a lack of pleasant experiences with other cats early in life. Cats don’t react well to change and prefer a consistent well-established territory.

If your guy grew up with little or no contact with other felines, he may react aggressively when he’s introduced to another cat because he’s afraid of the unknown. Your friend lacks feline social skills, and dislikes the disruption to his routine and environment, especially if the change involves a new cat introduced into the household.

Here is an interesting article on the topic from the ASPCA website.

Aggression Between Cats in Your Household

In some cases, however, cats get along just fine until something scary or unpleasant (like fireworks or the odor of the veterinary clinic) becomes associated with the other cat. In other cases, relationships change as the cats mature. If one cat reaches the age of one to three years old and then trouble brews, social maturation may be a factor.

Any sudden change in your cat’s behavior could be an indication of an underlying medical condition. If you notice any unusual physical or behavioral symptoms, or if your cat stops eating, please see your veterinarian right away.

Suggestions for Managing Your Cats

  • Never let the cats “fight it out.” Cats don’t resolve their issues through fighting, and the fighting usually just gets worse. Interrupt aggression with a loud clap of your hands, spray from a water gun or a burst of compressed air (no noise).
  • Neuter the cats. Intact males are particularly prone to aggressive behavior.
  • Separate their resources. Reduce competition between the cats by providing multiple, identical food bowls, beds and litter boxes in different areas of your hous
  • Provide additional perches. More hiding spots and perches will allow your cats to space themselves out as they prefer.
  • Don’t try to calm or soothe your aggressive cat, just leave her alone and give her space. If you come close, she could turn and redirect her aggression toward you.
  • Reward desired behavior. Praise or toss treats to reward your cats when you see them interacting in a friendly manner.
  • Try pheromones. FeliwayTM, a product that mimics a natural cat odor (which humans can’t smell), may reduce tensions. Use a diffuser while the aggression issue is being resolved. Please see our article, Pet Pheromones, for more information.

If the Aggression Is Mild or Between Two Cats Who Used to Get Along

  •  Separate your cats in different rooms for several days or weeks, with separate beds, bowls and litter boxes. This way they can hear and smell each other, but don’t have to interact.
  • Place the cats’ food bowls on opposite sides of a closed door. This will encourage them to be close together while they’re doing something that makes them feel good.
  • Each day, have the cats switch rooms so that they both experience some variation and get access to each other’s scents. You may need an assistant to do this safely.
  • After several days, if both of your cats appear relaxed, crack the door open one inch. If they remain calm, open the door a bit more, then a bit more. If the cats remain relaxed, they may be ready to be together again. But if they react with any signs of aggressive behavior—such as growling, spitting, hissing, swatting, etc.—separate them again and follow the gradual reintroduction instructions below.
  • Some cat parents have had success with rubbing a bit of tuna juice on their cats’ bodies and heads. The cats become so occupied with grooming, which is a relaxing behavior, that they’re less likely to be bothered by the other cat. If things go really well, the cats may actually groom each other because they can’t reach the juice on their own heads.

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