stock-photo-48149480-ginger-tabby-cat-sitting-on-suburban-fenceDear Porky,
My two cats, George, age 7, and Elaine, age 2, mostly get along great.

I adopted Elaine a year ago to keep George company.

But every once in a while, for reasons that are not at all obvious to me, they will start hissing at each other, sometimes swatting, and then stalk away in a huff.

They haven’t hurt each other yet, but it worries me. What should I do?

Dear Sally,
Just maybe they’re getting cranky because you ignore them while you watch endless reruns on the TV.

Just sayin’.

No seriously, cats have occasional disagreements.

They can be, you know, “catty.”

Their behavior may include hissing, spitting, swatting or chasing. If cats occasionally hiss and swat and don’t cause injury, or if they take turns doing the chasing, not to worry.

Play aggression is not a cause for alarm.

But major altercations can become serious and should not be tolerated.

Howling, yowling, flattened ears, dilated pupils, raised hackles, arched back and puffy hair are indications that a battle is on the horizon; so, you need to intervene before they get to that stage.

Staring at each other with a twitching tail is an early warning sign.

Cat-to-cat aggression is one of the major behavior problems experienced by cat owners.

If cats have unresolved issues with one another, they may injure each other, spray your house to mark territory, become lethargic, hide, refuse to eat and subsequently lose weight, experience stress and fear and even become sick.

It doesn’t sound like you have a serious problem yet, but there are steps you can take to minimize the chances that it will become serious.

Basically, you can create an environment that promotes harmony between George and Elaine rather than one in which they have to compete for resources.

Provide more than one litter box in more than one location, and let them decide for themselves which to use.

Providing a food dish for each cat or feeding stations at multiple locations can help reduce competition for food.

Multi-level cat trees or shelves make use of vertical space within the home and give cats optional places to hang out.

The more opportunity for cats to have their own spots, the better.

And it goes without saying that your cats should be neutered.

They have enough things to argue with each other about without adding sex to the mix.

If George and Elaine begin what appears to be a serious fight, interrupt them.

Make an obnoxious loud noise by shaking a jar of pennies, snapping your fingers, or clapping your hands.

If that doesn’t work, blast them with a stream of water or throw a blanket over them.

Once they stop fighting, separate them and reintroduce them gradually, even if they have lived together for some time.

Make sure they are settled before putting them together again.

Never ever try to separate fighting cats with your hands! It could result in injury to your hands, face or other parts of your body.

If you are bitten by a cat seek medical attention right away as cat bites are unusually infectious.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.


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