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petdrz, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 7148
Experience:  Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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My two cats - mother and daughter, ages 5 and 4, have started

Customer Question

My two cats - mother and daughter, ages 5 and 4, have started fighting. Both have been spayed and are strictly indoors. I suspect they have seen or smelled a stray outside, or I brought in a scent from outside. There has been no blood, but they are both very agitated around the other, when they are on the floor in the same room. The funny things is, when me or my husband is in the same room with them, we can get them on a table or other surface together and they sniff each other, purr, lick each other and seem to be just fine. Until they are on their own again and have meet each other on the floor. I am getting another litter box to put where Mom is and food to put where the litter boxes currently are so they both have separate spaces. But do I need to totally separate them or will they slowly work it out? I talk calmly to them when we have them together, but try to separate them when they start fighting (hissing, swatting, chasing, growling). Thanks for any insite.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  petdrz replied 3 years ago.

Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and your pets today. I am a veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy work with you.

The situation that you describe is very likely one of displaced aggression and it is fairly common among cats. The trigger often is, as you suspect, that one (or both) have observed a strange cat outside. This creates tension for the indoor cat(s) and they fight with each other because the intruder is out of reach. These can be difficult cases. Patience is the key. The first thing to do is separate the cats completely as you have done so that there is no chance of a chase / flee episode or anymore fighting. This separation period may take a long time. Plan for at least 4-5 days of not seeing each other. They should both be allowed to have periods of being allowed to roam the house separately in peace while the other is out of sight. I would avoid letting them have access to looking out of the window for now.


While separated, I would introduce a few Feliway room diffusers. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural chemicals that a cat secretes. It creates a comforting, reassuring feeling that has a calming effect to cats in stressful situations such as transport, hospitalization, veterinarian visits, boarding, new environments, pets or people. Feliway® is a product that can be sprayed or used as a room diffuser. It can be purchased through veterinarians and pet stores.


Another thing that may help is to use a common towel to rub the cats, as if they were grooming. This will get them used to each others smell again. You then need to re-introduce as if they met each other. As you start to allow them in the room together, maybe use a screen barrier and have meals fed at a distance, gradually reducing the distance. Don't allow a stare down between cats and keep the cats busy. Then put one cat away. Always end the encounter on a happy note. If one continues to be an aggressor, try having that one on a leash during the encounters so that the other can gain confidence that she can move about without being ambushed. Be careful not to get in between a fight if it occurs and do not try to break it up by lifting one up, or you could get bit. You could use a spray bottle, but only in an emergency. I would not get in the habit of spraying them as it only increase the fear all around.
These cases can take days to weeks or months to resolve. All encounters must be pleasant and you need to be patient. Do not force them to be together if they are not ready. Rushing the situation nearly always backfires.


I hope this is helpful. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me when you are done. Thank you for allowing me to assist you.


Dr Z


petdrz, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 7148
Experience: Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
petdrz and 3 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  petdrz replied 3 years ago.
Thank you kindly for the positive rating. It is truly appreciated.

I hope things are back to normal between the cats soon.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I haven't totally separated them yet. Like I said, they can be fine together when my husband or I am with them and have them together on a raised surface. It's when they meet while walking on the floor. So do I still need to separate them and go through a total reintroduction even though when we have them supervised sometimes they are fine? I think I'm even more confused that before. They were on the same couch two nights ago and while not touching, they were tolerating. It seems like totally separating them would cause some steps to go backwards.

Expert:  petdrz replied 3 years ago.
Since we don't know exactly what set off the whole event for sure, it would be better to give them some time apart and then slowly introduce them back together, even if there are times already where they seem tolerant of each other. Separating them would not be taking steps backwards, but allowing an encounter to occur as they pass each other would.

Once you do start letting them back together, do it gradually and only when you are there to supervise. Do not put them up on the couch together unless they choose to position themselves so. If they choose to stay at opposite ends of the room or have one up on the couch, while the other refuses to come in the same room, that is fine. Eventually, if they were friendly together before, they will most likely at least learn to tolerate each other in the same room or passing by each other.

I hope that makes sense. Please reply back if questions still.

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