So the “new kitty” has been with you for months – or even years – now. He’s not really the new kid in the house anymore, but the other cats still try to beat him up every chance they get. Hissing, spitting, clawing and chasing, they run the “new guy” all over the house.
After months and months of this, you’re tired and confused. Why are the cats still fighting? Aren’t they used to each other by now? What’s to hate about that furry little guy with the sweet temperament? What will make the cats get along?
Cats don’t like to be completely alone, but they’re not pack or herd animals. They’re loners by nature. The more cats you bring together, the less personal space each one will have. If they can never go off by themselves and enjoy not being around any other cats, they’re going to be annoyed and aggressive.
Try to set up space for the cats to go off by themselves and do their usual cat thing (sleeping all day, of course). Put kitty beds and playhouses all over the house. If you have a covered screen porch, you can also set up some room out there. The cats will appreciate the space – and the sunbeams that they can soak up on sunny days.
Intact males also love to fight. That’s their job as tomcats. Your job is to have them neutered. They’ll still fight for a while after the surgery, but they’ll eventually become mellow guys. Cleaning house will also be a lot easier for you, as your former tomcats will be much less likely to spray their territory (many stop altogether, in fact).
Older cats usually turn into cranky felines as they age. They don’t have the energy or patience for the year-old kitty who loves to pounce and play. Try to keep the younger cats occupied with toys and each other: the older cat in the family will appreciate your efforts.
If you’re still not sure of why your cats are fighting, pay attention to the behavior before they start to brawl. Where are they? What are they doing? What time is it? Look for patterns. Some cats will fight if they’re trying to eat. Others will become upset if another cat dares to invade their favorite sleeping spots. When you figure out what’s triggering the bad behavior, you can usually come up with a solution.
In some instances, weather changes can bring out the beasts in your kitties. Make sure that they’re comfortable – i.e. out of the elements and warm or cool depending on the season. This will help keep them calmer.
Spend more time playing with the cats. Offer them different types of toys, as each cat will like a different thing. If they’re all busy trying to pounce on the battery powered mouse that’s taunting them as it zips across the floor, they’re less likely to fight with each other.
Sometimes there’s no apparent reason for cats to fight. You can calm everybody down with products like Feliway – a hormone that calms aggressive cats. For many kitties, catnip also works. You can sprinkle this “downer” on their toys (especially the scratching post and any plush toys they might have) to help soothe the frazzled kitty nerves.
Sometimes the cats might pick fights with each other no matter what you try to do about it. You’ll have to break these up as soon as possible. Fill a clean spray bottle (preferably one that’s never been used before) with plain water and spray the cats when they start to fight. Yell “No!” when you do this so that the cats associate your command with the cease and desist order.
Just be sure that you don’t add anything to the water. Even some of the things that are safe for humans – orange oil, for example – can be very bad for the cats. The plain water will do the trick, so keep the spray bottle on hand just in case the cats decide to act crazy.
You can also separate the cats before they begin the actual fight. Send them to different parts of the house: if they can’t see or smell each other, they’ll most likely calm down if given a few minutes apart.
If things still haven’t improved, you should consult your veterinarian. He or she might be able to find a reason behind your cat’s aggressive, standoffish behavior – and fix the problem before the last of your sanity flies out the window.