Cats don't always get along. Over time, a personality conflict may develop between two cats which can lead to hissing, fur flying, and claws striking. Do you ever watch your cats nervously and wonder, "How do I stop my cat from bullying my other cat?" If one of your cats is always fighting the other, it might be time to step in. Try to give them personal space, help them feel more confident, or start over from scratch and "re-introduce" them. You may need to test a few of these approaches before you find the one that works for you.
Signs of Bullying in Cats
Sometimes it can be tough to tell the difference between cats that are playing and cats that are fighting. Playing can include bouncing on each other, chasing, and even a little hissing and light swatting.
Cats don't typically puff up their fur, growl, or injure each other when they're playing.1 If they fight with their ears up and they have relaxed stances, then it's likely they're having fun. They're just playing if they cuddle or groom each other afterward.
If they hiss or growl when the other cat is near, then things are getting too intense. If a cat acts scared, hides, or one cat starts peeing or pooping in inappropriate places, these can all be signs that a cat is being bullied.
When your cats play, it shouldn't turn overly aggressive. If things escalate, you'll need to step in and make some changes. The longer fighting goes unchecked, the tougher it can be for your cats to make amends.
Create a Calmer, More Peaceful Household
Cats are more prone to fighting if they have a lot of pent-up energy, especially if they're indoor cats. Help create a more relaxed household by playing with your cats a lot. Grab a treat and get your cats to chase you up and down the hall. Play with a feather wand or set up interactive toys. Try clicker training. If you engage your cats' minds and wear them out a little, they might feel less of a need to fight.
Set up a Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser in different rooms to help create a more peaceful atmosphere. This drug-free solution mimics a cat's pheromones, giving off natural signals that tell him your home is safe.
Your little fur babies might also feel stress if they see stray cats outside, and they may end up taking that stress out on each other. Close the drapes at night or set up motion-activated sprinklers outside to discourage wild animals from scaring your cats.
Cats that aren't neutered or spayed are also more likely to fight. Unchecked hormones can lead to aggression.
If your cats get into a fight, don't step in physically. Instead, try to redirect their attention.2 Use a toy like a feather wand to catch the aggressor's eye and get his mind off the other cat. This tactic can also teach your cats that they don't always have to escalate their tensions into actual fighting.
Give Them Their Own Territory
Cats might pick fights if they are intimidated or if they see the other cat as prey. One of your goals should be to help both of your cats feel more confident.
Set up lots of cat trees, condos, and window perches around the house. You want your cats to have the option to escape to higher ground, so they're not always forced to walk directly past each other. Look for places where one cat typically corners the other and try to put a cat tree there. This can also give your cats more space to call their own.
Consider getting more litter boxes since cats can be pretty territorial about where they pee. Try one litter box per cat, plus an extra box.3 You might also want to use litter boxes without tops so one cat can't get cornered by the other.
Separate their food and water bowls too. Cats have an instinctual need to protect their food, so forcing them to eat out of the same bowl may create unnecessary tension.
Re-Introduce Your Cats
If things have become really tense between your two cats, you may have to introduce them all over again.4 This process might take a few weeks, but it will be worthwhile in the long run. Start by keeping them in separate rooms and swap blankets so they get used to the other's scent in a non-threatening environment. Feed them on opposite sides of a closed door. When they can eat calmly, try feeding them on opposite sides of a gate or screen door.
Once they've graduated to being calm in this situation, you can supervise visits in the same room. Give them their favorite treats and see if you can use toys to distract them from each other. The goal is to teach both cats to associate the other with positive experiences, eventually learning that they aren't threats.
Just like people can get into fights, cats can too. A wrong meow or a shared litter box can be enough to cause tension and bullying. And just like people may need a little intervention to get along again, your cats might need a little help as well. With patience and time, your fighting cats will make "pawsitive" changes and become friends again.
1. Union Lake Pet Services. "Is Your Cat a Bully?" UnionLakePetServices.com, 18 January 2019, https://unionlakepetservices.com/blog/is-your-cat-a-bully.
2. Shojai, Amy. "How to Stop Aggression Between Cats." The Spruce Pets, 12 December 2019, https://www.thesprucepets.com/stop-cat-to-cat-aggression-553883.
3. David, L.C. "The Best Ways to Stop a Cat from Being a Bully." Pet Helpful, 23 May 2019, https://pethelpful.com/cats/Best-Ways-to-Stop-a-Cat-From-Being-a-Bully.
4. Fetch by WebMD. "Aggression Between Cats in Your Household." Pets.WebMD.com, https://pets.webmd.com/cats/aggression-between-cats-in-your-household#1.