If you have a multi-cat household, conflict and aggression may erupt once in a while. Your cats may chase, nip and swat each other. This is perceived as normal cat behavior and a part of rough play, due to curiosity or a result of one of the cats being under socialized. While it may be seen as part of a cat’s life, it may still seem unnerving for an concerned cat owner.
Cats swatting each other: Why do they do that?
Here are the common reasons why cats swat at each other:
1. To establish dominance.
If you notice your cats swatting each other, it could be that one of them wants to assert her dominance over the other. She may swat at the other cat to show her she is the boss and it may come to a point that the dominant cat may turn aggressive. If you observe this kind of behavior, be sure to address it at once to avoid further conflict. Remove the dominant cat and place her in another room to curb the aggression and the tendency to be violent.
2. To seek attention.
Cats swatting at each other may be a normal occurrence in your multi-cat household. They may do this to signal other cats that it is time to play and may swat not only other cats but their owners as well. When cats do this their claws are retracted and the ears are forward. The swatted cat may slap or swat back and it may continue for a while. The cats may take turns tackling, swatting and rolling. However, some cats may end up hissing and growling at each other so make sure you intervene and separate them.
3. As a form of aggressive fighting.
If you notice your cats swatting each other, it could be that they are having a full-blown violent disagreement. While most of the time you cannot determine why your cats are fighting, look for clues like having their claws out and ears that are flat against the head. This may signify that the cats are threatened or scared which means they are ready to fight it out.
Also, listen if they are hissing, screeching or meowing angrily and loudly. If this is so, break them up at once. Catfights do not necessarily mean they have bad blood between them, it may stem from fear or from one cat being startled by the other cat.
If the occasional swatting becomes more frequent, you should consult your vet or a veterinary behaviorist and discuss your cats’ behavior with them. Increased aggression and erratic behavior may signify an underlying illness or infection which should be addressed promptly.
Why does my cat swat at people?
You may have noticed that cats will not only swat at each other but also people as well. This may be because they see you as a potential toy or because you were wearing something that caught their attention like dangling earrings or you may have long ponytails. They do not mean any harm though so if you see them doing this you should not worry.
A startled cat may to swat at people which is a natural defense mechanism. Think of a time when someone played a prank on you and startled you from out of nowhere.The bottom line is, you should never startle a cat or else you will regret doing so!
Cats may also swat at people if they become uncomfortable or if they are in an unfamiliar environment. Take, for instance, if you are taking her to the vet’s clinic. Your cat may make an effort to get away by swatting at you.
Nevertheless, felines may also swat at people to catch their attention and usually this is to initiate playtime. If your cat does this, grab some string or her favorite toy and play with her. Interactive playtime is a great way to strengthen your bond with your furry baby.
Why does my cat swat at objects?
Cats will most likely swat at objects because they are curious and will do so to learn more about it. Humans tinker with objects like gadgets to see how they work and cats may have the same motivation, too. You may have noticed that your cat may play with a particular object that she found somewhere like a fluffy slipper or a Christmas ornament. She will poke, nudge and swat at it until she eventually loses interest in it.
Your kitty may also swat at objects because she may be scared of it especially if it emits a sound or moves suddenly. Since it is something she is unfamiliar with, she may swat it out of fear and as part of her defense mechanism. Cats will also normally swat at their toys as a means of exploration and as part of their playful nature. It may just mean that they feel good swatting at them and not because they do not like it.
What to do if your cats are always swatting and fighting each other
Here are some measures to take if your cats become aggressive with each other:
- Interrupt any form of aggression like frequent swatting and fighting by clapping your hands loudly or spraying from a water gun.
- You should neuter your cats since intact ones are more prone to aggressive behavior.
- Reduce aggression and competition among your cats by separating their resources and providing multiple litter boxes, beds and food and water bowls in your home.
- Place hiding spots and additional cat perches so your cats may have somewhere to go to distance themselves from each other.
- Do not attempt to calm down your cats when they are swatting at each other as they may redirect the aggression on you. Just leave them alone and give them space.
- Give them treats and praise them if they are not swatting at each other and interacting in a good way.
- Consider using pheromones like Feliway to reduce tension and to help them become calm and relaxed.
If your cats used to get along well but suddenly became aggressive toward each other, try to separate them in different rooms for a couple of days and provide their resources like food and water bowl, bed and litter box. Place their food bowls on opposite sides of a closed door, this way they do not have to interact but they can still hear and smell each other. Have the cats switch rooms to have access to their scents. Do this process until they have both become relaxed and calm.
Slowly and eventually reintroduce them to each other by letting them see each other from a distance until they are ready to be together again. But if they still react negatively toward each one, separate them again and start the reintroduction all over again. Some cat owners suggest rubbing some tuna juice to the cats’ heads or bodies. This will encourage them to groom each other, become relaxed and may completely forget about swatting or fighting at all.
Cats swatting each other is considered a part of normal cat behavior and is usually not a cause of worry for their owners. Felines do this to establish their dominance and to gain each other’s attention. However, it may also form part of aggressive fighting and if it becomes more frequent and damaging, consult your vet or a veterinary behaviorist.
Image: istockphoto.com / GlobalP