Mindful Monday – Why Don’t My Cats Get Along?

While I’m certainly no expert on cats, least of all their behavior, I write about them, live with them, advocate for them, and love them. And I get questions, and I attempt to respond. (I do know how to conduct research and I have opinions based on what I’ve observed and experienced—as we all do.)

One Catscapades blog follower asked why her cats don’t get along with each other. She said they’ve been together for a long time and don’t seem to like each other. In fact, she said, they just had a “dust-up” the night before. (I assume that means face-off or spat or swat-fest.)  Here’s basically what I told her:

Do you ever watch Jackson Galaxy’s show ‘Cat From Hell?’ He faced that problem with show guests often and usually was able to help to a degree. He watched the cats’ actions and studied their personality and history to discover what each wanted, how they reacted to people and activities, and what might be lurking in their past to cause them to behave in certain ways. Then he’d try to afford each cat his pleasures–one might prefer being higher–create perches on the walls where he can sit and nap. One cat might have bad eyesight and when the other one comes near, he is startled. There could be any of a hundred reasons why cats rumble. Maybe one of them got the upper paw at some point and has taken advantage of that. Maybe the meeker cat needs more one-on-one human time.

Certainly there are others with this problem. In our household Sophie (14) and Lily (10) only tolerate each other. While Sophie loved playing with Lily when she was a kitten, the two of them are not particularly bonded. They don’t cuddle together, nor are they aggressive with each other. They do however, on occasion, have a “dust-up.” I call it a girl fight. They sit looking at each other for a moment as if saying, “I was here first.” “No I was here first—you move.” Then a paw goes up in a threatening manner. Then a second paw. One or the other (never the same one) will close her eyes and slap. The second cat slaps back. There may be a few additional slaps, then they step off and go about their business as if nothing happened.

Why do cats rumble? Experts say it often has to do with competition—a sense that they are competing for food, space, the human interaction. Of course, Fluffy will resent another cat coming in and disrupting her happy home, but not all cats will make it a huge issue. Most will simply ignore the other cat and maybe display cat-itude once in a while. Others become aggressive and will bully the other cats in the household if they can get away with it.

According to the ASPCA website, a major reason why cats don’t get along is lack of early socialization with other cats. And it generally boils down to fear, change, disruption, being territorial. All cats react to these things differently.

What to do? Here are some things that might help: feed the cats in different areas away from each other, bring in more litter boxes, use pheromones, provide more perches and hidey holes for them and, here’s a biggie, toss them treats when they’re behaving nicely with each other.

Here’s a site with additional information. Let me know if any of these suggestions work in your home. Truly, if this is an issue in your happy home, you will get some constructive ideas here:  https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/aggression-between-cats-your-household

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