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Fighting- or not?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi folks!

I'm acquiring a Maine Coon kitten (a bit over 4 months), and already have a 4,5 yr old cat, she's spayed. Never having owned two cats, or seen two together, I keep wondering how I will recognize fights. I mean, how do you know when cats are *really* fighting, instead of just showing off to the other and not trying to hurt, or just playing? This may seem like an idiotic question to you, but since I've never seen cats interact, I was wondering... Of course once the kitten comes, I may just see how idiotic the question was, but hey, dumb questions are better than not asking, right?

I have two dogs, and know when they are getting into a small fight rather than just playing hard, but other people never can distinguish between the two, so it does take time to know the difference. I was just wondering if there is something I should watch out for, in case the cats do get into a fight and I should step in. Oh yeah, that's another thing- when do you step in to stop a fight, or do you just let them work it out, even if they do fight?
post #2 of 4
First....in order to make it much less likely that they will fight, I would STRONGLY suggest introducing them to each other very slowly.

When you get the new cat, keep the new cat in a separate room for approximately one week. During that week take a towel and rub the new cat and then rub the same towel on the old cat and vice versa. Do this multiple times daily. This way they will get used to each others' scents in a safe way.

After a week, lock up the old cat and let the new cat have the run of the house for a few hours. Then lock back up the new cat. Do this several times daily for a week.

When the two cats are more curious about each other than angry and territorial let the new cat out with the old cat. As soon as they are together give them each some tuna (in water) at opposite ends of the room. Play with the two with two different toys in the opposite directions so that they can both be playing but not near each other. These activities will make it so the cats associate good things with the presence of the other cat.

Expect some hissing and growling and even a swat or two. But...if they scream or bite, break it up immediately either by spraying with water or gently tossing a pillow at them. At this early stage I would not let the old cat chase the new cat. DO NOT let them fight. Aggression can be rewarding for a cat and once the cat realizes it can dominate the other with aggression it will continue to do so.

I know this sounds like a pain, but believe me....two weeks of separation can prevent two lifetimes of aggression and stress! It is well worth the bother.

Good luck!
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, lotsocats, I had read up on how to introduce two cats, and am planning to follow that advice. I was just wondering how you'd recognize what is serious and what wasn't, if for some reason a fight or something that looked like a fight occurred despite the slow introduction.
post #4 of 4
Believe me, you'll know when the blood starts staining the walls!

But before that, cats usually posture, facing each other and at least the agressor lashing its tail, ears laid back, teeth bared.... It's very dramatic.

They may eventually get tired of this and one will simply give in and walk away and things calm down until the next time. If they do decide to go for each other, the game is to get the other cat in a position so the agressor cat can use its hind legs. But any hold will do. You know it is serious by the level of vocalization and the quick fury. The scwaling is something fierce and you don't EVER want to step in and try to separate the cats. A pan of water, a well-placed broom (don't strike them with it -- use a sweeping motion), often just coming into view and clapping your hands or blowing a whistle will separate them. When you know your cats well and know who fights with whom, I personally just come up and snatch the usually-tamest cat off from the back and dump it in the bathroom for a while, but I would never try that with a new cat.

Any of these things will break up an immediate fight, but they don't solve the problem. That being that one cat figures the territory belongs to him/her, and the other cat become a trespasser who has to be driven off. Careful patience is required in introducing cats -- especially if one of the cats has been single cat for a long time. One cat never forgave me for taking a second cat and both never forgave me for starting to take in multiple cats from the street. They exhibited their unhappiness by not only attaching each other and any of the new cats, but also taking ill-tempered swipes at my legs when I was just walking around the house and hissing and swiping whenever I came near them for any reason. The second cat, after several years, has now begun to settle down, but none of the strays can go near her, and I am permitted to only pat her on the head when she inclines her head to be patted.

Cats are basically wild animals who have chosen to be reasonably friendly to humans in exchange for food and bed. But they are still wild. If they subsequently decide to love you and to return affection and loyalty, you are blessed. Some cats, however, never come to that point of mutual affection. It is this human quality in them that makes them so treasured by people who learn to know them. They are not slaves. They are free and make their own choices.

Dogs are very, very different. I have 16 cats (just added a few since last postings) and 5 dogs (someone just threw a gorgeous lab-type puppy over my fence, adding to my household 4), and it takes a lot of observation to read all the body language, intonation of language, and facial expressions. But you will NEVER mistake a serious cat fight.
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