Do your cats fight all the time? Find out how to restore feline harmony and ease tensions in your home.
(Q) Since our 17-year-old cat, Puff, was put to sleep, our two four-year-old female cats fight all the time. Puff must have been an excellent peacekeeper because they used to get on well. What can I do to restore the harmony?
Behaviourist Francesca Riccomini answers: Your older cat may have had a moderating influence on the other two because he or she had already established territorial rights and, as a consequence, they probably moderated their behaviour.
Feliway may help to reduce the tension between your females, however you need to work out why the relationship between your cats has deteriorated. You may be able to restore harmony if you provide lots of facilities that will help reduce their stress levels - for example easily accessible areas which are high up, plus some radiator beds and/or igloo-style beds. They also need lots of dark places.
If they don't have retreats of this sort they will become very competitive over the few resources on offer. Provide hidey-holes and shelves where the cats can hop up to in hallways, corridors, and landings - and keep supplies of small 'throwing toys' handy in these places so if anyone sees a problem developing between the cats they can deflect their attention.
Don't punish either cat if they become aggressive; they are not being nasty, they are unhappy. You can also help to reduce tension by feeding them in different locations, as mealtimes are usually situations where arousal is high. Play with the cats independently and don't treat them like one family.
ARE THEY PLAYING OR FIGHTING?
Many bonded cats enjoy play fighting and will chase each other, roll around and bat one another with their paws. The play is often silent and the biting is gentle, causing no injury to either cat. If this type of play escalates and involves hissing, painful biting or obviously frightened participants, this could be a sign that your cats are not too happy together.