Cat Fights

Cats will fight only when a fight is inevitable, and they have a range of body postures and noises designed to frighten off an opponent. If a hiss, followed by a short sharp spitting noise, does not see the other cat off, the cat will turn sideways to his opponent with his back arched and his tail upright. The hair on the body may fluff out, and so will the tail fur until the tail looks like a bottle brush. This is designed to make the cat look bigger and more threatening; and if he is not sufficiently frightening, he will execute a sideway skipping dance, stiff-legged in front of his opponent, growling or making a high-pitched yowling sound. His head then will quickly duck lower and a paw lash out towards the other cat's head. The second cat will then lower his ears against his head to minimize injury, and may spring at his aggressor's shoulder or neck; the weight of his charge will knock him over or the other cat will quickly twist to roll underneath.

The two will roll together, paws around one another's bodies, biting at anything they can reach. Ears will be kept low to the head as they are fragile and vulnerable. Each cat will continue to duck his head low, not only to protect it, but to help it twist underneath the other cat, because the cat underneath is in a good fighting position.

He can bite and can reach his opponent's neck and head; he can scratch with four sets of claws, and rake his opponent's belly. The cat on top has to use at least three legs to stand on, which means he has only one set of claws free for the fight. So he will try to twist under the other cat and the two may find themselves lying side by side, paws outstretched, pushing one another away. At this stage, one may give up and run off. All the while the two cats will stare hard at one another, trying to judge what the other will do; so it is hardly surprising that a hard stare is considered a threat in the cat world.

And if two cats are weighing up whether to attack each other, you can prevent them from fighting by placing something in their line of sight so that they no longer able to stare and will walk away or even go to sleep. A cat which does not see his chances in combat will not stare at his protagonist. Rather, he will gaze all around him, looking everywhere but at the other cat, as if to pretend that the other cat is not really there. If forced to look at him, he will do so while blinking rapidly in a desperate attempt to prove that he is no threat.

Most cats manage to share limited, and in some cases overlapping territories without too many battles, and fighting will be avoided when possible. A cat approaching another's territory and seeing a cat in residence will usually sit down some distance away. The two may sit for some time, at an angle to one another, observing each other's movements from a distance. The seizer may decide to leave the way he arrived or, if the territory owner walks-off out of sight, he may continue his journey across the occupied zone.

Fighting will occur over a female in season because her scent will carry over long distances and attract numerous tomcats. Fighting is not constant, although various scuffles will break out. Often tomcats will sit surprisingly politely and quietly outside the female's home in neat rows like a theater audience. It is when they begin to howl and spray that arguments can ensue.

Tristan Andrews writes useful articles about cats and kittens. Discover and explore the feline world. Find out how to better care for, train and live with your cat at

Animal Planet

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