Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health: Fighting Cats

Dear Porky, I have two cats, Punch and Judy. Judy is about five and Punch is one. They mostly get along pretty well and I adopted Punch as a companion for Judy when I am at work, but every once in awhile they have a horrible knock down drag out fight. They haven’t hurt each other yet, but it worries me. What should I do?


Dear Joe,
Cats have occasional disagreements. They can be, you know, “catty.” Their behavior may include hissing, spitting, swatting or chasing. If cats occasionally hiss and swat and don’t cause injury, or if they take turns doing the chasing, not to worry. Play aggression is not a cause for alarm.

But major altercations can become serious and should not be tolerated. Howling, yowling, flattened ears, dilated pupils, raised hackles, arched back and puffy hair are indications that a battle is on the horizon, so you need to intervene before they get to that stage. Staring at each other with a twitching tail is an early warning sign.

Cat-to-cat aggression is one of the major behavior problems experienced by cat owners. If cats have unresolved issues with one another, they may injure each other, spray your house to mark territory, become lethargic, hide, refuse to eat and subsequently lose weight, experience stress and fear, and even become sick.

It’s up to you to create an environment that promotes harmony among the resident cats rather than one in which the cats have to compete for resources. Provide more than one litter box in more than one location, and let the cats decide for themselves which to use. Providing a food dish for each cat or feeding stations at multiple locations can help reduce competition for food. Multi-level cat trees or shelves make use of vertical space within the home and give cats optional places to hang out. The more opportunity for cats to have their own spots, the better. And it goes without saying that all of your cats should be neutered. They have enough things to argue with each other about without adding sex to the mix.

If your cats begin to fight, interrupt them. Make an obnoxious loud noise by shaking a jar of pennies, snapping your fingers, or clapping your hands. If that doesn’t work, blast them with a stream of water or throw a blanket over them. Once they stop fighting, separate them and reintroduce them gradually, even if they have lived together for some time. Make sure they are settled before putting them together again.

Never ever try to separate fighting felines with your hands! It could result in injury to your hands, face or other parts of your body. If you are bitten by a cat seek medical attention right away as cat bites are unusually infectious.

If behavior or environmental modification alone doesn’t work, discuss drug therapy you’re your veterinarian. It’s important to work through environmental factors first though. We’ve said it before, but we are saying it again, always consult you own veterinarian for advice.

Why fight when you can play at the 9th Annual Chasing & Fetching Balls (a/k/a Golf) Tournament is on Friday, July 17th starting at 9 am, at Greenview Country Club in West Monroe. Captain and Crew with lunch, beverages on the course, raffles, games, prizes, a chicken barbecue dinner and a fabulous auction. For more details and to sign up go to www.oswegohumane.org/events.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets. Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter.