Monday, December 19, 2011

Breaking up a cat fight: How to do it without getting hurt

Maggie and Eamon the cats cuddled up in a chair
Maggie and Eamon sharing space quite happily.
I have three cats that live outside and three cats that live inside. All six of these cats fight with one another from time to time. As a result, I've become a bit of an expert at breaking up cat fights. I may also have a handle on why they fight in the first place.

The outdoor cats are a territorial bunch, and they're prone to participate in slapping fests around mealtimes. These are rarely epic battles, and it's extremely rare for any cat to emerge with injuries after the fights are over, but they can seem and sound pretty scary. One cat will start spitting and slapping, the other will spit and slap back and soon, they're chasing one another around the driveway.

The indoor cats seem extremely sensitive to change, and they'll fight when something small is amiss. When one cat is sick, for example, the others will beat on the sick cat mercilessly. Rarely does this cause any serious problem, however, as the picked-on cat will usually run to me for assistance or Liam will throw himself in the middle of the fight to keep the peace.

When the rare cat fight breaks out that seems serious, it's best to break up the action with one loud noise. Clapping your hands, pounding on the door, beating on the window or stamping your feet all work well. Some experts claim a blast of water is also effective, but it's not a method I've used.

Once the fight is over, it's best to do some research to determine why the fight broke out. In some cases, you can solve the problem. Taking a sick cat to the doctor might help, for example, or feeding the cats in separate areas can reduce territorial squabbles.

There are some fights you may never truly prevent, however, as some cats just seem to love their spats and they'll hold them no matter what you do. 

For more information about why cats fight, see this article. I remain convinced that no one can truly know why cats do anything they do, but this gal does seem to have a few theories that make some sense.