Cats are territorial animals, and cats that live within the same local area but not the same household will usually establish themselves into distinct territories with clear invisible boundaries that other cats will, in the main part, avoid. Cats that see each other on a daily basis and live very near to each other will generally tolerate each other well enough, and get used to the sight and smell of the other regular neighbourhood felines, although they are unlikely to actually make friends and actively seek each other out in the way that strange dogs often will.
Some cats are simply more prone to scrapping and disagreeing with other cats over their territories and who should be there than others, and every neighbourhood usually has a couple of dominant cats that are apt to scrap with each other or particularly seek out conflict with other cats that come into their territory.
If this sounds like your cat, understandably the situation can be problematic. Not only is it not nice to think that your cat is the neighbourhood bully, but there is also the ongoing worry and risk that your cat will become injured or hurt as the result of their sparring, or do some damage to somebody else’s cat. While you cannot change the nature of your cat’s personality or necessarily stop them from being something of a bruiser, there are some steps that you can take to address some of the common underlying causes of scrapping, and help to minimise the associated problems.
Read on to learn more!
One of the leading causes of territorial aggression and scrapping in cats is competition over potential mates, and not only will un-neutered cats ultimately breed prolifically when allowed outside, they will also tend to roam much further from home and be more likely to fight with other cats. This is especially true of tomcats, but is also the case for unspayed females. If your cat is not spayed or neutered already, this should be your first course of action.
If your cat is not happy at home or is concerned about their place within the household, they will be exponentially more likely to act out and get into fights. Ensure that your cat can view their home and garden (if possible) as a sanctuary that is not accessible to other cats that do not share their household, and check for underlying causes of stress that might be upsetting your cat.
If your cat seems to be particularly prone to fighting at certain times of the day or night, or often returns home with the marks of a fight at similar times but seems to avoid conflict the rest of the time, they may be clashing with the time schedule of another local cat.
Some cats are only allowed outside at certain times or over a certain time period, or will follow a fairly rigid routine of visiting the same areas at the same time of the day.
You may be able to remove the issue if you reduce your own cat’s comings and goings to times when they are usually ok, restricting them to the house each day over the time period that they seem most likely to run into opponents.
If you have recently moved into a new area with your cat, it will take them some time to fall into the hierarchy of the pecking order of the other local cats, and for those cats to get used to their presence. While this happens, there are likely to be some spats over territory, as the cats work out between them who is who and what is ok. This is the same if a new cat that is not yours moves into your own cat’s area, and again will usually settle down of its own accord given time.
If there are a high number of wild or feral cats in the local area, this can lead to issues with the local domestic felines and competition over food and other resources. Feral cats will often travel large distances in search of a meal, and will generally be bolder than domestic cats about seeking food from the home or garden of another cat.
Organisations such as the Cats Protection League or the RSPCA can help and advise you on managing feral cats in your local area, and will usually work with you to arrange trapping, neutering and re-release, or neutering and moving the cats to another area that is more suitable for them, removing the problem.
While most cats are keen to go outside, hunt and mark out their territory, how much trouble your cat gets into when they are out and about can often be minimised by ensuring that all of their needs are met. Ensure that your cat has plenty of opportunities for play and simulated hunting behaviour within the home, and that they are well fed and not likely to cover large distances in search of food.
As cats get older, they tend to chill out somewhat and become rather more sedentary than they may have been in their youth, and cats generally calm down a lot with age. This may not be very helpful when your cat is under five and you are looking at several years ahead of you of rabble-rousing behaviour, but it is worth remembering when things get tough!
If your cat is particularly highly strung or simply has the type of personality that seems to attract disagreements with other cats, consider chilling them out a little and generally lowering their propensity to look for trouble. Providing catnip toys, plants or supplements will often provide plenty of amusement for cat and owner alike, and put a smile on your cat’s face!
Feliway diffusers and sprays within the home can also help to improve your cat’s mood by introducing a synthetic feel-good pheromone into the atmosphere that will chill your cat out.
A related product called Felifriend is a spray designed to help with introducing cats to each other and keeping both cats calm and open to considering the other one as a friend, and you can spray some on a cloth and wipe it lightly over your cat’s fur before they go out to try to help with this.
Never spray Feliway or Felifriend onto your cat directly, or you might find this makes them not so friendly!