Aggression Between Cats in Your Household
Suggestions for Managing Your Cats continued...
If the Aggression Is Mild or Between Two Cats Who Used to Get
- Separate your cats in different rooms for several days or weeks, with
separate beds, bowls and litter boxes. This way they can hear and smell each
other, but don’t have to interact.
- Place the cats’ food bowls on opposite sides of a closed door. This will
encourage them to be close together while they’re doing something that makes
them feel good.
- Each day, have the cats switch rooms so that they both experience some
variation and get access to each other’s scents. You may need an assistant to
do this safely.
- After several days, if both of your cats appear relaxed, crack the door
open one inch. If they remain calm, open the door a bit more, then a bit more.
If the cats remain relaxed, they may be ready to be together again. But if they
react with any signs of aggressive behavior—such as growling, spitting,
hissing, swatting, etc.—separate them again and follow the gradual
reintroduction instructions below.
- Some cat parents have had success with rubbing a bit of tuna juice on their
cats’ bodies and heads. The cats become so occupied with grooming, which is a
relaxing behavior, that they’re less likely to be bothered by the other cat. If
things go really well, the cats may actually groom each other because they
can’t reach the juice on their own heads.
If the Aggression Is Severe or Occurs Between Cats Who Have Never Gotten
- Separate your cats as described above but for a longer period of time, and
reintroduce them at a much slower pace, like several days to a few weeks.
- Instead of simply opening the door to reintroduce the cats, provide daily
reintroduction sessions that very gradually move the cats closer and closer
together under supervision.
- During the sessions, you might find it easier to control your cats with
harnesses and leashes, or by confining one or both of your cats in crates.
- During the sessions, keep both cats distracted with food or play. Start out
with them far apart. Keep the sessions short. Make it easy for them to
- Separate your cats between reintroduction sessions to prevent a
- Only when your cats can peacefully eat and play within a couple feet of
each other should they be left alone together unsupervised. Trust them only for
short periods together at first and increase their times together
- Behavioral medication may be helpful in reducing a domineering cat’s
aggression and a skittish cat’s fear, making the reintroduction go more
smoothly and quickly.
If Your Cats Still Can’t Get Along
Don’t hesitate to contact a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or
ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) for guidance. One
of these qualified experts can evaluate the problem and help you manage or
resolve the conflict between your cats.
Some cats simply cannot live together peacefully. Since chronic stress and
tension isn’t healthy for people or pets, rather than force them to suffer
years of stressful coexistence, it may be more humane to keep them permanently
separated in the house or find another home for one of them.