Why does my cat hate other cats?
As a cat owner for over 30 years, I have had the pleasure of sharing my life with a lot of different personalities of the fur ball variety. With that said, I have owned cats that either generally dislike coming into contact with any other cats, whether that be their own siblings or cats that are strangers. A common question, and one that I’ve asked myself in the past is “Why does my cat hate other cats?”.
I have also owned cats that are very welcoming and friendly to others they come in to contact with.
So the first thing I would like to point out, is that because every cats personality differs so much, not all cats will hate other cats. Their personality will be the first thing that determines whether they are happy to be around other cats or not.
Just because two cats from the same litter may fight when they are next to each other, this does not mean that they do not have any attachment to one another.
I have previously owned two females from the same litter who would never tolerate being next to each other apart from feeding time. They were this way throughout their lives, however when one of them passed away, the other sister would be seen walking around the house whining and searching for her sibling. Definite signs of mourning were shown.
There are however, many factors in their life that can help form a cats personality and influence them to treat other cats in the way that they do.
Let’s go through the reasons for why feline aggression takes place and look at how we can combat it.
Cats are territorial
Because it is generally in the nature of felines to be territorial creatures, they will often instinctively be wary of cats that “invade” their territory, or can potentially be a threat to it. Although some cats do like to play together, they are first and foremost solitary animals.
This is likely to be the main reason why they do not treat humans in the same way that they treat other cats. Cats don’t see us as a threat to their territory in the same way.
Most aggression can be observed happening between two males, or two females. This would be because they see a cat of the same sex being more of a threat to their territorial/social status.
The only cat
If your cat has experienced life growing up as being the only cat, without much interaction with other felines, then signs of aggression will be very likely if a new cat is introduced to their territory.
Any new feline arrival may bring a big shake-up into the life of a cat that has had a solitary upbringing. Cats are known for being creatures of routine or habit, so they may not take very well to having their quiet life being turned upside down by a threat that they haven’t experienced before in their life.
A cat brought up in this solitary manner may also lack the social skills to form relationships with other cats as a result. The feeling of the unknown that they will experience will no doubt bring out their survival instinct more than anything else, causing them to be more aggressive towards other cats.
Disruption of routine
If your cat has undergone any recent disruption to the routine in their lives, this may bring out aggression towards other cats and even towards humans.
This could be because of a recent move of house, work being done in or around the house, or because of an introduction of another pet or a baby to the household. Something as simple as moving one piece of furniture to another part of the room can potentially cause your cats to show some heated behaviour towards one another.
It’s highly possible that your cat can turn aggressive, and take out its feeling of anxiety caused by these changes on other pets or yourself.
Another simple explanation of cats being aggressive towards one another, is their differing personalities clashing with one another. You may find that some cats get along with certain cats, but not others. Of course this is the same as with humans. Some cats seem to naturally “hate other cats”, wheras others have no problem making friends. This brings us to our next reason for aggression.
Social maturation as cat gets older
Similar to the last point, when cats are kittens you will find they may both be happy to play and have fun together, but cats mature socially as they grow up and this can cause one cat to begin to dislike another if they mature differently to one another.
Kitten fighting isn’t the same as territorial fighting that happens when cats are older, and it is very rarely dangerous.
As cats get older, one cat may be keen to play with the other cat, but the other cat doesn’t want to have any part in it and this can turn to them fighting with one another.
Picture the scene of one cat who is just trying to mind its own business and relax in the sun, whilst the other cat is running around trying to play a game with the relaxing cats tail!
As cats mature, they will also begin to try to assert their status over the other. This usually happens from around the age of 2 years.
How to combat feline aggression
I would like to point out that it isn’t possible to permanently stop cats being aggressive to one another. There will always be times when they will fight. There are however, simple ways you can safely combat the aggression when it does happen though.
Firstly, always try to stop fighting between cats. This doesn’t mean physically parting them, as that can result in you getting injured whilst they are in fighting mode. The best way would be to make a loud noise or use a water spray. If they associate the fighting with getting sprayed by water then this can help stop it happening in the future.
Try to push for the cats to be separated, sometimes the fighting will resolve itself quickly with one cat running to the cat flap and heading outside with the other staying put. If this doesn’t happen, try to coax one of the cats into a separate room or onto a different floor of the house and close a door to separate them. After a period of time they will calm down and you can allow them to be together again.
When cats have been fighting and have been separated into a quiet place of their own, just try to leave them alone for a while. They may still be hyped up and attempt to bite or scratch you if you haven’t given them time to calm down their mental state.
Ensure that you feed you cat at the same times each day. If you’re late feeding your cats then this can in turn create tensions between them when they are hungry and not getting the food that they are expecting. They will usually choose each other as the first thing to take out their frustrations on!
Generally allow your cats to have space from each other whenever they feel like it. Keeping two cats together for a prolonged period of time can often result in heated confrontations.
Try not to distract the cat that is playing “the bully” with food. This will only reinforce bad behaviour as they may associate it with getting what they see as a reward.
You can purchase products from a pet store that mimic the odour of a cat. Pheromone diffuser kits are known to be effective in calming cat behaviour.
Introducing new cats – Avoiding conflict
When introducing new cats into the same household, things may get quite heated as you would expect. Bringing a new threat into one cats established territory will often not be taken well by either cat.
In this case you will want to try to slowly introduce the cats in a safe manner that allows them to gradually get used to the other being around, but keeping them safely apart at first. Firstly you may want to keep the established cat in a closed room before bringing the new one in. Let the new cat roam around a room next to the room that the other cat is situated in.
Both of the cats will be able to smell each other’s scent and hear each other’s movement before actually being introduced. The natural instinct of your cat seeming to “hate other cats” can be diffused by introducing them slowly this way.
Allow the new cat to gradually roam more of the house on its own so that it is used to its surroundings before bringing them both together in the same room.
If the cats seem calm and more curious than aggressive, then let them be together for as long as possible. They may just choose to act a bit wary and then “sniff each other out” if you’re lucky! In the case of one or both being aggressive, separate them again and periodically bring them together over a period of weeks.
You may want to start them with short periods of time together, maybe just a few minutes, and then allow them longer as they become more comfortable with one another and less aggressive.
If you are having particular trouble introducing new cats, then you can purchase behavioural medication for the the cat who appears to be the most dominant. This can help the two cats get along better a lot quicker.
Although there are steps you can take to help your cats get along better, there will inevitably be some cases where certain cats will just never seem to be able to get along. There are people that can be contacted, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) if you feel you have done everything that you can with no progress.
Cats will be cats! As much as they are all the same type of animal, they are all very different! Some cats will take harder work than others to manage if you are experiencing behavioural issues. You might feel that some cats will just always seem to hate other cats!
We hope that by reading this article you have found ways to help your cats get along better, or at least feel like you understand your little furry friends a little more!