How to Break Up a Cat Fight

April 9, 2011

By Julia Williams

If you have more than one feline in your household, there may come a time when your ears are assaulted with the awful screeching noise of two cats fighting. Most of the time, these are merely playful tussles that sound a lot worse than they actually are. The noise fighting cats make can seem like they are in a fight to the death, even if they’re really just engaged in a mock battle or trying to assert their place as Top Cat in your household. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be able to distinguish between a real cat fight and a “play” fight. Play fights don’t require human intervention, but all-out cat brawls do, lest one or both of your cats get injured in the fight. Learn about the body language of cats and the signals that indicate a fight is for real.

The best way to break up a cat fight is to not let one get started in the first place, and understanding a cat’s body language is a great help. The problem is that with some cats, there is a bit of a “gray area” between play and fighting. Generally speaking, growling, hissing, arched backs, flattened ears, puffed up fur and big fat tails are not good signs. Subtleties aside, if you really take the time to observe your cats’ posturing and sounds, you can usually distinguish between the mock battles and a serious fight.

Ways to Break up Cat Fights

First of all, let me tell you what not to do to break up a cat fight. Never step between two fighting cats or try to separate them with your bare hands, because you will likely get bitten or scratched. No matter how docile your Fluffy normally is, a fighting cat is focused on the fight not on you, and their stress pheromones are very high. Do not yell at the cats either, as this only increases their stress levels and adds fuel to the fire. Stay as calm as possible while employing one of the following methods.

Using Objects to Break Up Cat Fights

* Throw a laundry basket over one of the cats to separate them.

* Toss a blanket, sheet or large towel on top of the fighting cats. It surprises them and redirects their focus from fighting to getting out from underneath the covering.

* Get out the vacuum cleaner. Most cats run and hide at the mere sight of the “monster that makes loud noises,” and you may not even have to turn on the vacuum to get your cats focused on something other than their fight.

* Clapping your hands loudly and rapidly may be startling enough to break up a cat fight.

* Placing a small piece of furniture (such as a kitchen chair or an end table) between the fighting cats may startle them enough that one or both of them will retreat and disengage from the battle.

* Use a long-handled mop or broom to separate the fighting cats and steer one into another room. Leave the cat alone in the room for at least an hour, then go in to check on them. If he seems calm, and the other cat has also settled down, you can open the door and let him out. Be sure to watch both cats carefully to make sure they aren’t going to pick up where they left off.

* If your cats are fighting outside near a garden hose, spraying them with water is a good way to break up a cat fight. Indoors, squirting them with a spray bottle of water may be enough to deter some cats, particularly if the fight is not overly aggressive.

Breaking up a cat fight can be scary, but if the battle is a serious one, it’s important to separate the cats to keep them from injuring themselves. The best solution is to prevent a cat fight before it starts, by paying close attention to body language. When a skirmish does erupt, using one or more of these solutions should help to break up the cat fight.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Pet Foods.

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  1. John says:

    I had to do community service at an animal shelter when I crashed my boat into another. We had a lot of aggressive males that would tear each other up if you didn’t get to them quickly. One huge wild cat named Bob was particularly violent. It got so bad all you could do was put on gloves and hope you didn’t get scratched to hell. He would attack me and I am 6’2, 210lbs…I’ll never forget that crazy cat…he bit a cats ear off and scratched ones eye so bad it had to be removed. Toward the end I lost all sympathy for that little terror…I would grab him by his hair and fling him across the room. He would come right back and try to attack me or another cat. He was the most aggressive animal I have ever seen and would probably kill every other male he could if you let him!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well I recently tryed to stop my two cats from fighting so I got in between them. BIG MISTAKE!!!!!! I got hurt really bad. My cat forgot about the cat and went for me. Now I know better and hopefully this won’t ever happen again. :-\

  3. Great advice – the garden hose is supposed to be another good way to break em up!

  4. Marg says:

    Great post. Lately I have been using a spray bottle of water and it works like a charm. Now all they need to hear is me approaching and they stop what ever they are doing. I just don’t want them to become afraid of me. But it sure helps to stop the bickering.

  5. Linda says:

    I usually use a spray bottle because it does work well, but if the fight is really serious, then it’s getting something between the fighters so they can cool off. Good tips, Julia.

  6. A good method that we use is shake a can with pebbles in it, OR the treat jar. They both work pretty well.