We’ve all been woken up in the middle of the night by two cats scrapping ferociously outside the bedroom window. It’s a blood-curdling sound and anyone would think the two of them were intent on killing each other. But are they? Why do they do it? What should you do? More to the point, is there anything you can do to stop them? Are they at risk of injuring themselves seriously? And is this likely to end in a large bill at the vet’s? A The sight and sound of two cats fighting can be alarming. But they are unlikely to inflict any serious damage on each other, aside from the occasional torn ear, which ruins little other than a cat’s good looks.
Cats are territorial animals by nature, and will fight tooth and claw to defend their territory. Every cat has its own territory, whatever its place in the local hierarchy, and it will do everything in its power to protect its position.
Tomcats are more aggressive than neutered males and tend to become involved regularly in fights, which is just one of the reasons to have them neutered. Although domestic cats are a lot less warlike than their wild cousins, all cats – male or female, neutered or entire – may fight to defend their territory, but this is more likely with entire tomcats. Toms may also fight over a queen if they want to mate with her.
A lot of feline confrontations do not actually end in a fight. Two cats often simply go through an elaborate ritual of aggressive gestures, postures and loud protestations in an attempt to frighten off their opponent, which often ends with the loser adopting a defensive or submissive posture and moving off. Fighting is a last resort, and if it comes to this, actual physical contact is usually kept to a minimum, with the loser running off and generally being hotly pursued by the victor.
- Cats often gather together quite peaceably in communal meeting places, the operative word being communal . This is no one cat’s territory, so they do not feel any need to fight.
- A queen that has recently had kittens may sometimes attack an intruder in order to defend her litter.
- Toms do not resent a newcomer if she is female, whereas a new tom – whether entire or neutered – will probably have to establish his position, and this means that he must be challenged to do so.
It’s unlikely. Kittens often appear to fight, but this is usually only a game. These games are important because they teach a kitten a lot about how to defend itself and, if need be, how to attack. There is no need to be alarmed if you see kittens fighting. In fact, they are play-fighting which is an important way to learn how to attack and defend.
Q. We are new in an area where there are a lot of cats living. Do you think other cats may pick on ours?
Cats with established territories may defend them from a new cat. If your cat has trouble establishing itself, you may like to give it a little help through judicious use of a water pistol, to deter the others.
Deep bites can develop into abscesses or infect the bone, thus requiring urgent attention from a vet.