One cat bats another's head

Claws Out: Understanding Why Cats Fight

Thirty pointy teeth. Four clawed paws. Cats have evolved the tools needed to survive and defend themselves. But it seems some feline assailants are far too eager to use them on their housemates. Have you ever wondered why cats sometimes fight each other?

If your cat displays a sudden increase in aggression, you should consult your veterinarian. Sudden changes in a cat’s behavior can indicate an underlying medical condition, such as dental disease or arthritis. 

If you’re sure the problem isn’t medical, one of the below might be the culprit.


A cat who has not been socialized to other felines is likely to be hostile toward them, especially if they are made to share their home. They lack social skills and experiences to navigate feline to feline interactions.

Territorial Behavior

Cats beef over turf. Like many other animals, some cats strive to keep other cats out of their territory, whether that’s a neighborhood, a house, or a bedroom. They might be particularly aggressive if you’re welcoming a newcomer to your cat’s well established territory.

Personality Clashes

Sadly, most cats don’t get to pick their friends or roommates, and sometimes we humans accidentally put two cats together who don’t get along. 


Sexual hormones play a huge role in feline aggression, especially in males competing for mates and female mothers. The best way to address this behavior is to spay or neuter all cats.

Negative Associations

In some cases cats mistakenly associate scary events like thunderstorms, or furniture falling over with other cats (other cats who may or may not have knocked the furniture over … not pointing fingers)

Play Aggression

It’s common for young cats to engage in roughhousing, including stalking, chasing, pouncing, swatting, scratching, and biting. This is fine and normal if both cats are willing participants. Problems occur when only one of them is the aggressor; balanced play should be observed.

How to Prevent Cat Fights

The ASPCA has numerous suggestions for how to manage feuding felines, including:

  • Never let cats “fight it out.”
  • Separate their resources to reduce competition.
  • Reward desired behavior with treats and attention.
  • Consider trying calming pheromones. 
  • Spay and neuter all cats.
Share this:
Posted in Feline Care.