Getting a new cat seems like a great idea. You’ll have a new furry buddy to love and care for, and your former kitty will find a new friend to nap and play with.
Everybody wins, right?
Well, not always. Sometimes the cats won’t get along. Instead of playing, they might growl, hiss, crawl, and bite each other. That can be discouraging for any cat owner. But it’s normal for two cats not to get along the first time. Some friendships take time to build.
Thankfully, you can take steps to get your cats to get along. Below, we share nine tips and tricks you can use to make your cats get along. But before that, let’s examine several reasons why cats fight each other.
Why Cats Fight Each Other
There are several reasons cats exhibit aggressive behavior towards other cats. They include the following:
Lack of Socialization
A cat raised alone without interacting with other felines may not get along with others. Isolation makes it impossible for them to develop social skills, and they may react unexpectedly after being introduced to other cats for the first time.
Defending their Territory
Cats are territorial creatures and will mark their territories by leaving their scent on objects and humans. Hence, they won’t take it kindly when other felines invade their space because they perceive them as a potential threat.
Unfortunately, cats don’t get to choose their housemates, and humans are not usually the best matchmakers. So, there is a likelihood of having two cats with clashing personalities living in the same household.
The mother will growl, hiss, chase after, and try to scratch or bite any feline intruder. Luckily, this motherly aggression usually declines when the kittens reach the weaning stage.
The 9 Tips to Get Your Cats to Get Along
Now you know some of the reasons why your cats may not be getting along. Consider the following tips to build a healthy relationship between the felines.
1. Introduce Them Gradually
Many conflicts between cats are a result of wrong introductions. Although it is hard to correct learned behavior, reintroductions can also work for cats who have never gotten along.
The best way to introduce or reintroduce the cats is very gradually, through stages.
First, keep the cats in separate spaces separated for several days or weeks. That way, they can hear and smell each other without interacting physically.
Once they are used to their spaces, you can start introducing the scent of the other cat to each cat. You can introduce one peach of each cat’s bedding. With this strategy you are creating a communal scent.
Next, try feeding or playing with them while they’re both close to the door, separating the areas. The idea is for them to associate the other feline’s presence with positive feelings. If both cats seem calm while near each other behind a closed door, you can take things up a notch by letting them see each other without allowing physical interaction.
Lastly, let them spend time together without barriers. Of course, you need to be present during the first meetings to supervise the interaction. Repeat until you can leave them alone unsupervised.
2. Utilize Rewards and Treats
Positive reinforcement is the best way to correct behavior. That means offering your cats rewards and treats whenever they interact calmly and peacefully. If you do that enough times, your kitties will start associating the rewards with being calm and relaxed around each other.
But be careful not to offer treats or rewards when the cats get aggressive. It can reinforce the negative behavior just as it does the positive.
3. Have Separate Resources
To avoid competition, ensure enough resources are available by having multiple food bowls, litter boxes, beds, toys, and scratching posts in different spots within the household. Don’t allow the new cat in the household to use the same resources as the other cat if they seem territorial or aggressive.
If possible, have one extra for each cat in the household and ensure they can easily access them. This is essential with regards to litter boxes. You may need to make special arrangements to avoid conflicts if you have more than two cats.
Space is another potential cause of conflict. You can avoid that by ensuring there is plenty to accommodate all cats. There should also be enough climbing, perching, and hiding spots in case a cat needs some alone time.
Cats can also compete for your attention. So, ensure you treat them equally. If one gets to sit on your lap, so should the other. If one isn’t allowed on the bed, neither should the other.
It can be tempting to shower the new cat with affection to make them feel welcome. To avoid conflicts, you should try to keep the routine you had with your previous cat.
4. Stop Them From Fighting
Never let the cats fight since scratching and biting could lead to injuries. Break them up whenever they display aggressive behavior by distracting them with loud noises or sudden movements. You should not get in the middle of two fighting cats.
It is advisable not to try picking them up while in that aggressive state. The cats can easily redirect their aggressiveness to you by biting or scratching. So, it is better to let them calm down first.
5. Identify the Cause of Conflict
As stated above, cats may not get along for several reasons. Knowing specifically why the cats behave aggressively towards each other is the first step in preventing future conflicts. You can do that through careful observation.
Some causes, like maternal and territorial aggression, can quickly be resolved or prevented by implementing specific changes. But others, like personality differences and lack of socialization, might require more time and effort.
6. Consider Spaying and Neutering
Spayed and neutered cats are less likely to engage in aggressive behavior than intact felines. Therefore, spaying and neutering your pets can make it easier for them to get along.
Intact males will fight with other males for territorial dominance and females. Neutering is the only way to reduce these vicious fights.
Females also want to assert dominance over their counterparts in the household. Additionally, they get aggressive when pregnant or nursing and will attack other female and male cats while trying to protect their litter from harm.
Spayed cats have less hormonal influence and are easier to get along with. Eliminating their ability to get pregnant also prevents future maternal aggressiveness.
7. Use Pheromone Products
Using pheromones to aid the introduction process could help since stress can hinder the cats from getting along. Synthetic pheromone products mimic a cat’s natural pheromones and can help diffuse the tension while you acquaint the felines.
A 2019 study showed that Feliway Friends diffuser worked in reducing stress and anxiety in housemate cats. There are no known side effects.
8. Be Patient
Some cats might hit it off immediately if you are lucky. But many cat relationships don’t start that way. For most cats, making new friends can take several months. Therefore, exercising patience is crucial.
The long wait can be frustrating. But it will be worth it once the cats become friendly or learn to live with each other.
You might feel tempted to yell at the cats or punish them. But punishing lousy behavior will only stress the felines and increase their hostility towards each other.
9. Visit a Vet
Sometimes aggressive behavior is a sign that your cat might be sick, especially if the behavior change occurs suddenly without a logical explanation.
You know your kitty best. Therefore, taking the cat to the vet is advisable if you suspect the aggressive behavior results from a medical issue. If you’re unsure, watch out for other unusual symptoms, such as lack of appetite.
Making unrelated cats get along is no mean feat. But it is not impossible if you employ the right strategy. Consider the tips we have outlined above.
Most importantly, it requires patience since training cats to get along can take time. Sometimes it can take days if you’re lucky. But you might be forced to work on it for months without getting positive results. Seeking professional guidance from a certified animal behaviorist would be helpful.
Even then, some cats don’t seem to get along or some cats simply do not want to live with other cats. You just need to make sure that the cats in your care have the best welfare possible.
Featured Image Credit: JumpStory
- Why Cats Fight Each Other
- The 9 Tips to Get Your Cats to Get Along
- Final Thoughts