Logo image
Logo image

How to Separate Two Cats that Are Fighting?

5 minutes
You should separate cats that are fighting as soon as possible to avoid serious injury. Never intercede, but distract them with something.
How to Separate Two Cats that Are Fighting?
Last update: 03 August, 2023

Watching a fight between cats provokes in us an automatic response: To get in the middle and stop it. However, this isn’t the most advisable thing to do, as it poses a risk to the felines and to the human who intervenes. On the other hand, it’s true that quick action is indeed required to separate the felines before serious injury is inflicted. So what can you do to separate two cats that are fighting? In the following article, we’ll give you all the information you need to be prepared in case you witness one of these fights, so be sure to read on.

Fights between cats

In veterinary practices, it’s common to see owners who come with their feline because it’s gotten into a fight and has an injury. In fact, 1 in 4 cats shows aggressive behavior with members of their species or with the humans that share their home with them. Even so, a quick mark or a scratch isn’t the same as a fight.

A fight between cats implies that the conflict has escalated to the point where both cats escalate to direct aggression. In this scenario, they engage in shrieking, scratching, and biting, and won’t let up. This situation is dangerous as it can lead to serious injury or even death of one of the felines.

Why do cats fight?

Usually, the fight is preceded by warnings and markings for a while and, if the tension isn’t resolved, it escalates until it explodes. The main reasons for a fight between cats are the following:

  • Territoriality: Cats are solitary animals that mark their own space, both in the street and at home. The presence of another feline in their territory can lead to conflicts.
  • Hierarchy: When cats live in a group, a hierarchy is established between them. While this is being configured (or if one of the cats doesn’t respect it) aggressions appear.
  • Adaptation problems: When a new cat arrives in a home where another cat already lives, it’s normal for some isolated aggression to occur, such as snorting or scratching. This is to be expected, as the felines are getting to know each other and establishing the hierarchy. However, it’s essential to manage the situation so that it does not turn into a blood feud.
Some figure

How to act in the event of a fight between two cats

The best course of action in the event of two cats that are fighting is always prevention. The warning signs that felines send each other are clear and you’ll see them increase in intensity over time. Here are some tips to avoid future fights:

  • Make a proper introduction between both animals when a new cat arrives.
  • Find out what’s causing your felines to clash and solve it: It could be a lack of food, overlapping spaces, or problems relating to you, for example. If you eliminate the cause of the conflict, you’ll reduce the stress that drives them to fight.
  • When cats threaten each other, distract their attention: You can throw a toy, for example. Beware of picking them up or physically interceding, as you may provoke a redirected aggression towards you.
  • Reward them if they withdraw from conflict: Reinforcing non-aggressive behavior will help felines understand that there are advantages to living with another cat. This is very useful when it comes to the first few days of living together.
  • Neuter them: Neutering reduces aggressive and territorial behavior, among many other advantages (such as the prevention of gonadal tumors).
  • Use artificial pheromones: Although they must first be approved by a veterinarian, pheromones help cats feel more comfortable in their space, especially when they’re getting to know each other.

Even so, there’s a chance that you may not be able to observe these warning signs (because they’re two individuals in a feline colony and you can’t monitor them all day, for example). If a fight breaks out and you haven’t been able to prevent it, here’s the right way to proceed to separate those involved.

How to stop two cats that are fighting?

Stopping two cats that are fighting is urgent, but it’s also dangerous. The first thing you should know is that you should never separate the cats with your hands because you can receive part of the aggression, and the injuries produced are prone to complications (not only by the injury itself but by infections).

Nor should you use instruments such as broomsticks (or similar) to separate the cats from afar, because they could hurt themselves with them. In addition, they’ll most likely be so involved in the fight that they won’t even notice that a foreign object is trying to separate them.

So, the best solution is to create a distraction that is strong enough for the cats to separate on their own. This can be a scream, a loud noise, or throwing an object. Needless to say, this object must not be able to cause any harm to the cats, i.e. it must be soft and squishy.

A very common option is the typical spraying of a stream of water, as felines are quite reactive to this stimulus.

Once you’ve separated them (and if the fight has occurred inside your house), place each cat in a different room until they both calm down. Don’t punish them, as this will only add to the anxiety of the moment. Once the two felines are calm, control their encounters so that they’re progressive and a fight doesn’t break out again.

Some figure

A final consideration that you must take into account is that, although there are specific medications to appease the territorial and aggressive instincts of cats, these will only be effective with a behavioral intervention at home. If you’re unable to resolve the conflict in the long term, see a specialist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Curtis, T. M. (2008). Human-directed aggression in the cat. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice38(5), 1131-1143.
  • Amat, M., Manteca, X., Brech, S. L., Ruiz de la Torre, J. L., Mariotti, V. M., & Fatjó, J. (2008). Evaluation of inciting causes, alternative targets, and risk factors associated with redirected aggression in cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association233(4), 586-589.
  • Moesta, A., & Crowell-Davis, S. (2011). Intercat aggression–general considerations, prevention and treatment. Tierärztliche Praxis Ausgabe K: Kleintiere/Heimtiere39(02), 97-104.
  • U.S. pet ownership statistics. (s. f.). American Veterinary Medical Association. Recuperado 27 de septiembre de 2021, de https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/reports-statistics/us-pet-ownership-statistics

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.