"One cat isn't enough," they declared. They exclaimed, "You need to get two cats!" They exclaimed, "Cats are chill!" If your cats get along, living with two cats can be nirvana. On the other hand, a living nightmare is created when one cat consistently mistreats the other. We've got some good news if you're wondering how to stop your cat from harassing your other cat: you're not alone (really). It simply need time.
What does cat bullying look like?
Bullying by cats can take many different forms, from overt physical behaviors like pouncing while brandishing sharp claws to more subdued actions like protecting the food bowls. All bullying behavior has one thing in common: it is never provoked. For instance, Milo is reacting to aggression (not bullying) when he chases Belle down the corridor after Belle swatted his face. Belle approaching Milo at a trot and randomly hitting him in the face? Indeed, that is bullying.
In addition, watch out for biting, scratching, hissing, hoarding toys, guarding the litter box, territorial aggression, and—no joke—mean looks. It's crucial to monitor your cats' weight, litter box usage, and disposition in addition to being aware of their behaviors, as some of these can be difficult to identify. Look for dilated pupils, whiskers thrown back against their faces, and flattened ears. Aggression is shown in these behaviors.
Identify the reason
Once the initial acknowledgment of bullying within a cat dynamic is established, the subsequent imperative involves discerning the underlying catalyst propelling such behavior. According to insights from the Behavioral Series at Banfield Pet Hospital, addressing and mitigating feline aggression necessitates a comprehensive understanding of its root causes, as the cessation of bullying proves challenging without such insight.
Various factors, elucidated in the Feline Health Center at Cornell University, can act as triggers for deleterious conduct, such as traumatic occurrences like distressing visits to the veterinarian or undisclosed medical conditions. Cats with prior negative experiences in different environments, either with humans or fellow animals, may manifest bullying tendencies as a coping mechanism, particularly when adapting to a new environment. Additionally, studies indicate that early weaning can contribute to the development of hostile behavior, while boredom itself may serve as a stimulus for bullying.
The introduction of a new cat or kitten into the household often precipitates bullying dynamics. Established cat may adopt a bullying posture towards the newcomer in an attempt to safeguard their territory, while the new addition might engage in bullying behavior as a manifestation of dominance or nervousness. It is crucial to recognize that aggression and bullying can manifest at any juncture, even after an apparently smooth initial introduction between cats.
Consultation with a veterinarian is paramount to rule out or confirm potential medical issues contributing to bullying behavior. In instances where kidney disease is identified as a causative factor, medical intervention through appropriate medication may be the singular remedy to alleviate the issue and ameliorate the feline dynamics.
What then can I do?
Upon ascertaining the causative factors or concurrently delving into their identification, proactive measures are pivotal in curbing cat bullying. Strategic prevention involves the meticulous identification and elimination of triggers contributing to bullying behavior. For instance, in scenarios where vet visits catalyze animosity between cats, preemptive measures such as secluding one cat in a designated room before the visit can mitigate potential conflicts upon their return. Furnishing the isolated cat with interactive toys serves as a constructive outlet for any pent-up aggression.
Instances of conflict escalation often coincide with resource scarcity. Mitigating potential disputes involves ensuring an abundance of resources, including extra litter boxes, additional food and water bowls, increased perching options, and a variety of playthings. This proves particularly effective in cases where cats identify themselves with distinct social groups within the household.
In cases of persistent conflict, a temporary spatial segregation is recommended. Providing each cat with exclusive living quarters, complete with individualized necessities such as food and water bowls, litter boxes, and toys, facilitates a hiatus from direct interaction. The subsequent reintroduction process, as delineated by the ASPCA, becomes imperative for fostering an improved relationship between the cats over time.
- Ensuring that although they cannot see each other, they can hear and smell each other.
- Feeding them with a closed door between them.
- Occasionally switching rooms to allow them to smell one other.
- Gradually reintroducing them, one brief playdate at a time.
It has also been observed that pheromone diffusers reduce aggression in cats and among cats. All-natural Jackson Galaxy's Bully Solution has received excellent feedback from cat owners who cope with aggressive cats.
Reward good behavior with praise. When your cats get along, even if it's simply by coexisting calmly in the same room, treat them freely.
Make Your Home a Calmer, More Peaceful Place
Cats conflicts are often exacerbated by accumulated energy, a circumstance particularly pertinent to indoor cats. Promoting a serene household environment involves actively engaging with your cats to dissipate excess energy. Incorporate interactive play sessions using tools such as feather wands, enticing treats, or interactive toys to stimulate mental activity and reduce the likelihood of confrontations. Consider implementing clicker training as a cognitive engagement strategy, diverting their focus and diminishing the inclination towards aggression.
To foster an overall tranquil atmosphere, strategically employ a Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser in various rooms. This drug-free solution emulates cat pheromones, emitting signals that convey a sense of safety within the home environment.
External stressors, such as the presence of stray cats, can contribute to heightened tension among your cats. Implementing measures like closing drapes at night or utilizing motion-activated sprinklers outside can deter wild animals, alleviating potential stressors that may be redirected towards inter-cat conflicts.
Addressing the root cause, hormonal influences in unaltered cats can escalate aggressive tendencies. Ensuring the neutering or spaying of your cat companions helps regulate hormone levels, mitigating the likelihood of aggressive behavior.
In the event of a cat altercation, physical intervention is discouraged. Instead, employ redirection techniques using toys like feather wands to capture the attention of the aggressor and divert their focus from the conflict. This approach not only prevents physical harm but also imparts a valuable lesson, teaching the cats that tension does not invariably escalate into physical confrontation.
Allow Them To Have Their Environment
Cats altercations may stem from feelings of intimidation or when one cat perceives the other as prey. A key objective is to bolster the confidence of both cats through strategic environmental enhancements.
Strategically placing cat trees, condos, and window perches throughout the residence provides elevated escape options, diminishing the likelihood of direct confrontations. Identifying areas where one cat tends to corner the other and situating a cat tree in those locations not only facilitates escape routes but also allocates distinct spaces for each cat.
Addressing territorial concerns, the provision of multiple litter boxes is essential. Aim for one litter box per cat, augmented by an additional box to minimize territorial disputes over elimination spaces. Opting for open-top litter boxes prevents one cat from feeling cornered by another during crucial moments.
Respecting the innate instinct to protect food, segregate food and water bowls to prevent unnecessary tension. Individualized feeding stations contribute to a more harmonious cohabitation by mitigating potential conflicts arising from territorial disputes over sustenance. This proactive approach not only nurtures a more confident environment for each cat but also fosters a sense of ownership and security within their living space.
Re-Introduce Your Cats
If tension has escalated significantly between your feline companions, a comprehensive reintroduction process may be necessary. Although this endeavor may span several weeks, the long-term benefits make it a worthwhile investment. Commence the process by isolating the cats in separate rooms and initiate scent exchange by swapping blankets, allowing them to acclimate to each other's odors in a non-confrontational setting. Establish feeding routines on opposite sides of closed doors, gradually progressing to feeding sessions on opposite sides of a gate or screen door as they exhibit calm behavior.
Upon successful acclimatization to these controlled environments, supervised visits within the same room can be orchestrated. Utilize their favorite treats and engaging toys to divert their attention from each other, fostering positive associations and dispelling the perception of the other as a threat. The ultimate objective is to instill a positive connection, where both cats associate each other with pleasurable experiences.
Similar to human conflicts, feline disputes can arise from seemingly trivial triggers, such as vocalizations or shared litter boxes. Recognizing the need for intervention, exercising patience and dedicating time to this reintroduction process can yield positive changes. With perseverance, your cat companions can transition from adversarial interactions to amicable relationships, demonstrating that, with concerted effort, even cats can overcome conflicts and become friends once again.
What shouldn’t I do?
Avoid resorting to physical or verbal punishment as a means of correcting your cat's behavior. Yelling or swatting can exacerbate aggression, fostering a counterproductive response. The use of a spray bottle filled with water is a limited and short-term solution that merely interrupts a fight without imparting any constructive lessons.
Exercise caution when attempting to intervene physically, especially with highly aggressive cats. Trying to break up a fight with your hands may result in becoming a new target, exposing yourself to potential harm.
While CBD oil has been explored as a remedy for cat anxiety, it is imperative to seek veterinary guidance before administering any medication. Underlying medical issues could contribute to the observed behavior, and a professional evaluation is crucial.
View the separation of cats not as a form of punishment, but as a necessary measure to afford each cat the space required to cultivate independence before attempting harmonious interactions.
Ultimately, seeking the expertise of a certified applied animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist is recommended. Consulting with these professionals provides a tailored and comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing the root causes of cat aggression, ensuring the well-being of your cats in a more effective and informed manner.