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My Cat Fights with Other Pets
 

Creating peace in a home with more than one pet may require some work, but if you are patient and follow our advice, your cats should at least tolerate one another—and your dogs.

Start the Relationship(s) off Right

After you’ve brought your new cat home, start checking off each of these questions as you go along. Once you're able to answer “yes” to all of them, you’ll be off to a good start.

  • • Isolate the new cat in a separate room so the cats (and/or dog) can smell one another through the door. If you don’t have a spare room, use your bathroom.
  • • Exchange bedding and/or switch their rooms to get them used to each other’s scent.
  • • Keep this up until there are no signs of stress. With luck this will take a few days, but it might take weeks or months.
  • • Set up a strong baby gate (preferably at least 36 inches high) in the doorway of the new cat’s room.
  • • Let the cats (and/or dog) get a quick look at each other and immediately praise and reward them with a treat if there’s no attacking or growling.
  • • Close the door.
  • • Repeat this process five to 10 times in a row two to three times a day.
  • • Pay attention to body language: If they seem relaxed when seeing each other, extend the time they can look at each other.
  • • Always quit while you’re ahead—don’t keep going until the growling or signs of discomfort start. And try always to close the door on a good note.
  • • Continue until everyone seems comfortable with one another. Be patient—this might take a while.
  • •Once the cats are in view of each other it is a good idea to play with them using an interactive fishing-rod type toy. Play with the cats simultaneously, but give each his own toy to play with (this is easiest with two people). The cats will learn that being around each other means play time. This fishing-rod toy is also an excellent tool for distracting and redirecting a cat who seems ready to show aggression.
  • •If you notice tensions, distract and separate everyone quickly and return to the introduction by sight step.
  • • When they behave well during an interaction, reward everyone with treats and praise, making sure that each cat or dog gets the treat meant for him or her.
  • • Don’t leave them alone together until you’re sure that they’re comfortable with each other.
  • • Not using the litter box
  • • Overgrooming
  • • Not eating or drinking adequately
  • • Hiding
  • • Vocalizations to create distance, such as hissing or growling
  • • Sitting or lying near each other
  • • Grooming each other
  • • Walking past each other without signs of tension
  • • Eating, using the cat box, grooming, or playing near each other
  • • Ignoring one another (not all cats are going to be friends)
  • • As many litter boxes as cats, plus one additional box
  • • Food and water dishes for each cat
  • • Various high resting spaces for cats
  • • Many different hiding spaces for cats
  • Instead of being threatened by the new cat in town, this guy is just curious about the smell that's coming through the door cracks. Mike McFarland/The HSUS

Help Your Cats Get Along Again

Use these tips to stop aggression between your cats—or at least help them tolerate each other. Check off each one as you accomplish it.

  • • As many litter boxes as cats, plus one additional box
  • • Food and water dishes for each cat
  • • Various high resting spaces for cats
  • • Many different hiding spaces for cats

A note on hissing: Don’t assume that a cat who is hissing is the bully. Hissing often means “Leave me alone!” and signals that the cat feels threatened. The bully is often less vocal, intimidating the other cat with hard stares, confidently sitting close, or edging the other cat off a place he’s sitting.

If you are still having issues after you have checked off everything on the list, please contact us at cats@humanesociety.org for more information, clarification, or advice.

  • A hissing cat is usually telling the bully to leave him alone. Mike McFarland/The HSUS

Help Your Cat and Dog Get Along Again

Use these tips to stop aggression between your pets—or at least help them tolerate each other. Check off each one as you accomplish it.

  • • Firmly say “No” (without yelling), calmly pick up and carry (if you can do so safely) or lead the bully to the bathroom and shut the door.
  • • Ten minutes later, let him out of the bathroom as if nothing happened.

If you are still having issues after you have checked off everything on the list, please contact us at cats@humanesociety.org for more information, clarification, or advice.

  • Introduce them the right way, and your cat and dog could see eye to eye—and nose to nose. Mike McFarland/The HSUS

My Cat Suddenly Attacked Another Pet for No Reason

If your cat suddenly begins hissing, growling, and/or attacking another cat, your dog, or you—perhaps with her hair puffed straight up— for what appears to be no reason, she’s probably displaying "redirected aggression."
 
Redirected aggression is usually a reaction to one specific frightening experience: He may have seen a cat outside, heard a sudden loud noise, had his tail stepped on, or smelled or heard something that you aren’t even aware of. It can take your cat from several minutes to hours to return to her normal self.
 
Caution: Sudden and unexpected aggression from your cat may also be a sign that she may be experiencing a medical problem: pain or an illness such as an issue with her thyroid. If your cat’s behavior shows a sudden or drastic change, take her to your veterinarian.
 
Here's how to react to redirected aggression:

  • • Once your cat is in her “safe room,” listen to her through the door to see if she is still growling. If so, keep her in the room longer. She should be in the room for a minimum of one hour.
  • • Before letting your cat out of the safe room, talk to him through the door for a few minutes in a calm, happy voice. Toss a treat into the room only when he’s stopped growling, and only enter the room when you detect no signs of stress.
  • • Don’t attempt to pet or hold your cat until you’re sure she’s feeling calm and safe again.
  • • Protect your cats from situations that upset them. For example, keep them away from the windowsill or block their view if they are stressed by outdoor cats in the neighborhood.
  • Play more interactive games with your cat.
  • • If one cat continually shows redirected aggression to a cat or dog she usually likes, consider reintroducing them slowly as if they never met before using the steps laid out in the Start the Relationship(s) Off Right section.

  • If you are still having issues after you have checked off everything on the list, please contact us at cats@humanesociety.org for more information, clarification, or advice.

    • You might never get to the bottom of what's terrified your cat so much that she's lashed out at your other pets or you. But you can help her calm down and feel safe again. Mike McFarland/The HSUS



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