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How Do Cats Fight and Why?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

We’re sure you’ve seen cats fighting each other. Or perhaps they were playing? If you’ve had your house full of cats, you know that there will be a lot of chasing and play-fights all around. Cats that get along with each other usually get engaged in playful wrestling but no matter how friends they are, they can also fight for real at times.

So how can you tell the difference? How do cats fight each other? And why does that happen? The reasons for why cats fight each other are more or less similar to why we humans fight each other.

How Do Cats Fight

As is the case with us, cats can as well express their discontent with other cats through disputes and fights over various reasons.

While playtime is very important for cats and kittens alike, that doesn’t mean it will look gentle at all times. Now and then, their playful wrestling will look kind of rough, making their owners wonder what’s really happening in between the two protagonists. Despite that, there are a few cues to which you can pay attention and figure out if your cats are fighting or just playing.

If the cats are usually hostile with each other, you can bet that in most cases, a wrestle will mean a real fight.

For those cats who have a friendly relationship in general, their body language will tell more about the encounter. If their ears are in normal position and not twisted to the back, it means they’re playing. Raised hackles, like when they curve their spine and their entire fur coat stands up signals a fight.

Growling and hissing sounds signal as well that the two cats really mean business, so you might want to separate them before they harm each other. When engaged in play, biting doesn’t cause injury and pain in the other cat and they usually take turns in wrestling and chasing, but in a real fight one cat will be dominant and the other submissive.

If you watch all these signs, you’ll be able to tell if your cats are fighting or simply playing.

Why Do Cats Fight

Now that we know how do cats fight, let’s find out why they do it. There are several reasons to that and the main ones revolve around key elements.

First, keep in mind that cats are territorial creatures and most fights occur because one is trespassing the other’s territory, hence the need to show who’s the ‘owner’ there. This happens most often than not when a new cat is introduced in the family, but is also likely to happen between cats that already have a longer relationship.

Social ranking is another factor that comes to play here. It happens between males, as they need to establish a hierarchy if they live together, and for that matter there can be only one alpha male. Which means that if no one wants to surrender that spot, there will be some fighting. And contrary to what some people might believe, this happens even between neutered male cats.

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