Feline frenzy

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Cat fights

Keeping the peace in a multi-cat household.

Many a cat lover knows that more than one cat in a household has the potential of being a nightmare of the first order. Nasty hissing, biting and scratching can be as hard on pet parents as it is on the cats. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you put in time and effort.

Although cats in the wild have strong relationships with their moms, aunts and siblings, once they’re on their own, they tend to be solitary. Should another cat cross into what they consider their territory, there’s bound to be a stand-off.

Sometimes cats get along famously, but after a traumatic event, the dynamics could change. Signs that cats aren’t getting along are obvious: hissing being the first red flag. Subtler tell-tale signs are if one cat leaves the room when the other enters, or a submissive cat may try hiding to avoid confronting the dominant cat.

Stopping a fight

When a flare-up starts, don’t shout, clap, or grab the water gun. Stay calm and simply insert a large piece of cardboard between the cats. If the cats are locked together, pick one up by the scruff, which will force him to release the other cat. Keep the cats separated for a while to blow off steam.

Introduction

To get cats to like each other, or when introducing a new cat to the household you’ll need a whole lotta time and patience.

First put the cats in separate areas/rooms with their own food, water, litter boxes and climbing spaces. Spend an equal amount of quality time with each cat in their respective territories.

After a few days, do an olfactory introduction. Allow the cats to share scents by feeding them at the same time on opposite sides of a door. Continue the scent swop by mixing their used litter and interchanging food bowls. Take a cloth and wipe down one cat’s paws and tail, then let the other one smell it. Also switch the cats’ spaces so that they get a blast of each other’s smell.

Now for the big face-to-face. Put the cats on opposite sides of a screen or baby gate. This allows them to see and smell each other with the security of a protective barrier. Once they can look at each other without starting WWIII, remove the barrier. Then lavish each cat with heaps of praise. With time, the cats will start associating their former foe with positive experiences.

Peace-keeping

You’ll have to act like the United Nations Peacekeeping Force for a while to prevent future dramas. Each cat should have its own food and water bowl, litter tray, play space and a safe-haven perch.

Pheromone dispensers, Calm-eze, prescribed Clomicalm or anti-anxiety drugs may also help anxious cats.

After this tough grind, your cats might still hate each other’s guts. But hopefully they’ll get to a stage where they simply ignore each other. Unfortunately, cats are cats and that’s that.