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Cats are by nature very territorial animals, who do not take kindly to the presence of another cat on what they view as their turf! Whilst cats are not the completely solitary creatures that some people assume they are, cats take a long time to warm up to the presence of a new cat in their home or local area, and in the time before they all settle down around each other, this can lead to a reasonable amount of stress, fighting and lots of very audible yowling and growling!
Whilst serious cat fights that are designed to achieve the worst possible damage to the other party are not very common, cats do still fight and scrap on occasion nevertheless, and certain types of cats are more likely to do this than others, and certain situations and events can also contribute to the hostilities!
In this article, we will look at some of the factors that can come together to cause a cat fight, and what you should do if you find that your cat has been fighting with another cat. Read on to learn more.
Because cats are free roaming animals that are not restricted in the same ways that dogs are, and also because cats are not pack animals, cats are exponentially more likely to get into scraps with each other than dogs are.
Whilst most cats will generally avoid fighting if possible, generally, cats that are not used to each other will see each other as potential enemies, and it will take some time for them to get used to each other and learn to live on the same territory. In the interim time, there may be battles for dominance, fights over territory, and generally a shake-down whilst the respective cats work out their positions in relation to each other.
Cats fight over territory, resources and breeding partners, and often, the dominant cat in any given territory will assert their dominance over new cats or kittens as they get older, to ensure that they know their place!
The wider and larger your cat’s territory is, the more likely they are to get into scraps with others. Cats that wander far from home are more likely to come into contact with strange cats and so, fight, and if you live in an area where there are lots of cats in close quarters, this may lead to occasional problems too.
Added to this, unneutered male cats are much more likely to fight than neutered ones, in competition for available breeding partners. If there is a cat in season in the area and two or more unneutered males, the fights between the males are highly likely to be very vicious and serious. Two unneutered female cats are also likely to fight as well, and so spaying and neutering can greatly reduce both your cat’s propensity to roam a long way from home, and their likelihood of getting into fights.
When you move to a new area where there are already existing cats, or if a new cat moves into your neighbourhood, this will upset the existing balance of the dynamic between the resident cats, and will often lead to scraps and minor fights until all of the cats settle down and get used to each other.
Particular pinch-points can occur when one cat goes into another cat’s garden, or even into their home to check it out, and so this should be discouraged by the owners where possible.
Added to this, when young kittens become a few months old and begin to develop sexual urges, other cats in the neighbourhood will begin to see the kitten as a potential threat for the first time, and so this is another situation that can lead to fights, and again, one that can be prevented by neutering when the kitten is old enough.
You may hear your cat scrapping if it happens close to home, as cat fights are rarely quiet events! Other signs to look out for include your cat coming racing in appearing unsettled, bushed up or growling and perturbed, or signs of clumps of fur having fallen out or being loose.
Any obvious injuries such as limping, cuts or scrapes also indicate a fight, but it can be hard to spot these due to your cat’s fur, so if they do come in and appear unsettled, wait until they have calmed down and then check them over thoroughly for signs of damage.
It is important to check your cat over thoroughly for signs of fighting, as puncture wounds from another cat’s teeth can be hard to spot, and are prone to developing infections due to the depth of the wound and the fact that cat’s mouths are full of bacteria!
Even small puncture wounds can develop infections and abscesses, so if you spot any wounds on your cat, get your vet to check them out. The same goes if your cat is limping or appears injured in any other way.
Vaccinations are vital too, as many of the core communicable feline diseases such as FIV can be spread through blood and saliva, and so vaccination is important to ensure that a small scratch attained in a fight does not turn into a major health issue later on.
Finally, it is important to try to pinpoint why your cat is scrapping, and if necessary, work with the owner of the other cat to see what you can do about it; for instance, by neutering the offending parties, using microchip cat flaps that keep strange cats out, or fencing off your garden in such a way as to keep other cats out and your own cat contained, if necessary.
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