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how to stop cats from "fighting"?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've got a problem with two of my cats. A little background on the situation:

My wife and I got Cat A a couple of years ago, and then five months later, got Cat B. They became very good friends. Seven months later, Cat B had gotten on my wife's last nerve (talking, scratching, opening cupboards...all at night), so he went to live with my mother last May. Last July, we got Cat C, who also became good friends with Cat A. In December, we moved, and our new place had enough space for all three cats (Cat B's personality had been too large for our old one-bedroom apartment). So I brought Cats A and C here, and about a week later, Cat B. There was that initial rough patch at the beginning of Cat B's reintroduction, but soon enough, he and Cat C were buddies.

But Cat A still doesn't like him. She will tolerate his presence, but never gets too close. Cat B has begun to torment Cat A--but I've seen it and it didn't look like fighting to me. He will walk up to her and playfully swat her; she'll hiss and growl; it will escalate to him chasing her into the hall and swatting her as she hisses, growls, and screams. She looks either extremely terrified or extremely angry, but she never fights back. Also, I'm not sure he's actually fighting with her. He doesn't scratch her or bite her or jump on her. Just swats her.

What's the deal, and is there a way to stop it before he gets banished to Grandma's house again?
post #2 of 11
I used to have the same problem between my RIB male alpha Wawa and QT (female alpha). Right after he settled in, he used to bother her all the time. Even if I interfered, he did not stop. After some "months", QT had enough and handled it herself. She gave him a warning before she swatted him real bad. It shocked him into being more humble
If you could be more patient, your Cat A will probably put Cat B in his proper place. You can also try giving Cat B time outs whenever he seems too aggressive towards Cat A.
post #3 of 11
We never had cat fights in our house until we got Taxi. He was in constant stalking/attacking mode from the moment he moved in and never left Minka and Leo alone. It does start to happen less and less with time.

We do what Yayi suggested and put Taxi in time-out whenever he starts attacking Minka or Leo. This actually works out well because it gives Minka & Leo a chance to play and act crazy without having Taxi interfere.

Nowadays if he starts to instigate something, or even looks like he's about to, I can just say, "TAXI!" very sternly and he stops. He doesn't want to get locked up.
post #4 of 11
Sometimes it can be really hard to tell between fighting and playing - the problem, if it is play, is that Cat A apparently isn't into playing with Cat B. I, too, think eventually they'll work it out.

But in the meantime, you can try several things. Wipe Cat A and Cat B all over with a couple of clean rags or wash cloths (best if they don't have fabric softener smell on them). Each morning and evening, put treats down for Cat A on a towel that smells like Cat B, and vice versa. Also, put one of the Cat A scented rags someplace B sleeps a lot - again, vice versa. This will help them come to associate good things with each others' scent.

Also, the time outs are a good idea. He'll learn that behavior you don't want gets him isolated and getting no attention.

...but it's also important to reinforce "good" behavior. Any time you notice them near each other, or Cat B just walking by Cat A and not doing anything to her - or just lying near each other, give them treats. This, above all else, seems to be helping our similar situation. Every time our Cat B gets near our Cat A and doesn't bother him, it's like a party - he gets played with, he gets treats - and the positive reinforcement seems to be helping a lot, because he's leaving Cat A alone a lot more.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Three months later and the problem seems to have gotten worse. I've been locking Cat B in a kennel when I catch him bothering Cat A, and he really hates it, but it hasn't stopped him. Now he just bothers A, then runs and hides when I come after him. I've been giving him firm warnings when he looks like he's about to chase her, and I've made sure to give both of them extra positive attention.

And I did a little experiment: I put them both in the kennel (it's big enough for a mid-sized dog to spend the night in) and sat quietly to observe their behavior. I thought B would bother A, and A would fight back since she really had no other option. What actually happened was surprising. Cat A spent the entire time growling and pacing very slowly, while B cowered in a corner and completely avoided making eye contact with her. Then A walked up to B, continued to growl, and showed her displeasure by biting B's ear, though not enough to cause pain.

I've since seen similar behavior outside of the kennel. A will approach, and B will show the same kind of fearful submission as A hisses and growls at him. But sometimes, she'll hiss and growl then run off, with B taking off after her, and what sounds like an extremely violent scuffle ensues. No cat has been hurt; A was declawed as a kitten and B apparently doesn't use his claws on her. It seems to me like A is just being a whiny b**** and throwing a fit whenever B decides he's sick of her crap.

My wife maintains that B is just a jerk and that he needs to go back to his grandma's house for torturing A. But I think she's biased--B is my cat and she hates him (too high-energy and inquisitive for her; he got in lots of trouble when he was a kitten) and the other two cats are hers.

And so I once again ask for advice from you cat experts.
post #6 of 11
#1: don't put them in a confined space together. It just makes matters worse.
#2: Let them work it out! My male cat will aggravate Fiona as well and she makes a big stink about it (hissingm swatting etc.) I let them work it out between them and they can now sleep side by side.
#3: Give it time. The "bothersome" cat is not a "JERK" just misunderstood. He is just being a boy cat...they notoriously bug the girl cats. Girl cats just make a big stink and move on.
#4:Stop putting him in the kennel. Its obviously not working. Could be making a situation that is "normal" into a REAL probelm.
post #7 of 11
I agree with the above, please don't put them in that small of a space together. They're already having problems living in a home together; that will just make everything worse. I think of it as kind of like having a severe argument with someone I don't like in the first place, just wanting to be away from them, and then locked in a closet together against both our wills. . .and whatever happens while in that space.
It really is quite normal. It will work out. They might never be best buddies, but they will learn to tolerate each other.
I don't have a ton of experience since most of my cats have gotten along pretty well, but make sure you keep rewarding them when they are together and not starting things with each other. Your cat is not a jerk. Cats are not people and can't be judged to the same standards. I don't know why "Cat B" doesn't like "Cat A" but if he has a problem he can't exactly send a rude letter, can he?

I think Nat (white cat lover) should comment on this thread. She has a great deal of experience with cats that don't get along in the same household. I can't PM people. Maybe someone else wouldn't mind asking her if she might give some advice here?
post #8 of 11
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
#3: Give it time. The "bothersome" cat is not a "JERK" just misunderstood. He is just being a boy cat...they notoriously bug the girl cats. Girl cats just make a big stink and move on.
Not unlike humans.
post #9 of 11
And now for the other side of the story. guywithcats wife here. Cat B has been harassing Cat A relentlessly for seven months and it's only gotten worse. I know he's not using his claws but the shrill volume of Cat A's terrified/angry screaming wakes us (or at least me) almost every night. Also Cat A has always had a liter box issue but since reintroducing Cat B it's gotten a lot worse. It's not working out. We'll try the cloth and treat idea - that one actually sounds pretty good. But just letting them work it out - it's not working. It's only getting worse. Cat B is a smart cat. I know that even thought I can't stand him. He knows that he's going to get in trouble when he harasses Cat A but he does it anyway. We've been married for two years and the majority of our arguments have to do with Cat B. I'm all for making it work without having to send Cat B back to grandma's. I'm sure my husband thinks I would love nothing more than to get rid of him again but he makes my husband happy and I want it to work. But he has to stop torturing my cat. She's becoming very stressed. Working it out themselves isn't the solution. Any other ideas please?
post #10 of 11
I can understand how nervewracking this must be. Losing sleep because they are having one of their tiffs is not fun.

But there is no way to stop a cat from being a cat. Thats what they are doing. They are communicating as cats do but it sounds like it is something you can't see living with for much longer. One of them will have to go if you really feel like this behavoir is disrupting your home.

Some of us have posted our experiances with our cats not being the best of friends and we let them work it out and live with it because we know it is a cat being a cat. We don't want to live without either cat so we tolerate their scuffles. I guess its gonna come down to how much you want to tolerate?
post #11 of 11
1) Get more litter boxes.

2) Clean up any soiled areas with an enzyme cleaner. The best one in our experience is Nok-out: Unless the smell of pee is gone to the cat, that in and of itself will continue to cause problems. Purchase a small hand held black light and go through your home to find all places the cat(s) have peed outside the box. It will show up as an orange splotch in the black light.

3) Consider purchasing flower essences. I'd go for a Rescue Remedy or a Calm & Serence. They can be purchased at most health food stores. If you're in the US, they can also be purchased at They don't always help, but when they work, they really work.

4) Work on the positive reinforcement.

5) The scent swapping is VERY important! Essential even!

6) CREATE AS MUCH VERTICAL SPACE as possible! Vertical space helps diffuse alpha cat issues. Cat trees, stack plastic storage boxes in a pyramid, consider stuff like this:

7) Have you used Feliway at all? If not, get the spray and douse the house with it. Don't spray it near where they're supposed to scractch OR the litter boxes. Re-spray every three days.

And I had no idea the time-outs were in a carrier! Time-outs should be in a separate ROOM - like the bathroom! Not something they already hate. And certainly not something you don't want them to hate. It's going to be hell when kitty ever needs to go to the vet!

Cats are ALL ABOUT association. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to focus on getting Cat A to associate Cat B with good things!

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