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Reducing Cat fighting
Why do cats fight?
We are seeing an increased number of cat fight injuries, most commonly abscesses. The reason we get more in mid winter/spring is that from around the shortest day (21st June) the tom cats in your neighbourhood start searching for mates and securing territory for themselves. Even though your cats are neutered, the tom cats invade your cat’s territory. This upsets the usual territory boundaries that neighbouring cats have set up and where a growl and hiss have previously sorted challenges they now find themselves needing to fight again.
Another reason cats fighting is so prevalent in Christchurch currently is that lots of people are still moving, often temporarily while house repairs are carried out. This may mean that new cats are temporarily in your neighbourhood, again upsetting the usual territory boundaries.
Steps to reduce fighting
There are steps you can take to reduce the amount of fighting. If you have a new kitten you may decide to have it as an indoor only cat. Cats are fine indoors provided they are supplied with plenty of places to climb and view from high points. You could also consider building an outdoor cat run which is closed in so that cat can access it via a tunnel from your house. These are common overseas where in many areas cat are no allowed outside due to their effect on native species. There are many plans for these on the internet.
If you prefer to allow your cat to come and go outside, you may like to consider keeping your cat indoors from dusk until dawn. Night-time and especially around dusk and dawn is when most fighting occurs. If your cat has been used to going outside whenever he/she chooses it may take a week or so to train this new habit. If this is causing you sleep deprivation, provide them a nice cosy area of the house or garage well away from your bedroom so you can sleep. Many cats will soon adapt to this new routine. Both this option and the indoor only option also reduce your cats risk of contracting FIV.
If your cat is very aggressive to neighbourhood cats and nothing you do seems to stop him/her, then you should consult with us about feline pheromones, or behaviour modification medication which may be helpful.
In addition, if your cat is very nervous and being picked on, feline pheromones can be helpful in helping him/her to relax. Talk to one of our veterinarians or veterinary nurses about these. It is important to keep your cats stress under control as continued stress can lead to inappropriate urination.