It’s a common situation when living in a town or built up area, hearing the horrible yelling and screaming of cats outside fighting each other, however it is always worse when your own cat is involved.
Cats are territorial animals and often fight to defend their territory.
The warmer months are the most common time for cat fights to occur as female cats are coming on heat, and more comfortable temperatures make it nicer for cats to wander outside at night.
It is important to never try and separate two cats in a fight or try and handle them afterwards, they are often highly strung after a fight and will act to defend themselves. You may be best attempting to spray them with some water to spook them apart.
Cat fights can be harmful to your cat for multiple reasons:
FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus)
Fighting with other cats can highly increase your cat’s risk of contracting FIV which is spread via cat bites. FIV affects the immune system and is incurable.
Cat bite abscesses and other related injuries.
A cat’s mouth and claws are covered in nasty bacteria which can result in serious infections that often end up requiring veterinary treatment.
Abscesses are a common occurrence after a cat bite, they are often seen as a lump in the skin caused by an infection which results in swelling and pressure.
An abscess can be very painful and will require veterinary treatment to cure.
Being involved in a cat fight can cause a lot of stress on your cat.
Think about it this way, you are at home protecting your property and someone attacks you, it hurts, your scared, and you don’t know if they are going to come back and do it again, it’s scary! This stress can be long lasting, resulting in harmful medical conditions such as urinary tract inflammation (this can cause a blockage and become fatal in male cats).
Other signs of stress may include, over grooming, misdirected aggression (attacking owners and other pets), hiding and inappropriate toileting (particularly spraying).
Unfortunately, frequent attacks and intimidation may cause your cat to feel unsafe in its own home and he/she may leave the area for good in search of a safer place.
Sadly even indoor cats, who never go outside, can also be mentally affected by cats fighting outside. Cats don’t always understand the safety of a closed door, especially if they have been attacked before.
So the real question is….
How do you avoid your cat being affected by cat fights outside?
-Desexing your cat. This will eliminate you cat’s desire to mate, and reduce its interest in wandering to look for a mate, as well as reduce the risk of fighting with other un-desexed male cats
-Keeping your cat inside. Consider building a cat enclosure outside, these are a great way for your cat to enjoy the outside, but safely and can be attached to the house for easy access inside and out.
-Be mindful of what may be going on outside, and how it may affect your cats mental state.
-Use Feliway spray or a plug in diffuser; a synthetic pheromone, that can help create your home into calming place for your cat, and reduce stress.
-Keep an eye on your cats’ behaviour and notify your vet if you notice any changes.
-Potentially invest in a Microchip reader cat flap; to prevent stray cats from entering your home.
-Keep food bowls inside and only ever feed your own cat to discourage strays from repeatedly visiting your house.
-‘Cat proof’ your fence; there are many companies who build cat safe fence toppers (to keep your cat in and others out) and be sure to check for holes in the fencing where other cats may get in.
If you have any concerns with your cat please contact our friendly staff at Latrobe Veterinary Hospital (Traralgon) on 03 5174 6999 or our Morwell clinic on 03 5133 8005.