How to Get Cats to Get Along: A Comprehensive Guide

icon October 31, 2023

Cats are known for their independent and sometimes unpredictable nature, which can make introducing them to each other a challenging endeavor. However, with the right strategies and understanding of feline behavior, it is possible to create a harmonious environment where cats can coexist peacefully. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various aspects of helping cats get along, including why cats fight, how to introduce them, how long it takes for them to get along, and much more.

How to Get Cats to Get Along?

Slow and Steady Introductions: When introducing a new cat to your household, or even just a new companion for your current cat, it's crucial to take things slow. Use a separate room or space to allow the cats to become familiar with each other's scent without direct contact. Gradually increase their exposure to each other.

Positive Associations: Use positive reinforcement to create a favorable association between the cats. Offer treats, playtime, or affection when they are near each other. This encourages them to associate the presence of the other cat with positive experiences.

Space and Resources: Ensure that there are enough resources, such as litter boxes, food and water dishes, and resting places, to go around. Cats may become territorial when they feel their resources are limited.

Feliway and Pheromone Diffusers: Feliway, a synthetic feline facial pheromone, can be diffused in your home to create a calming environment. This can help reduce tension and aggression between cats.

Neutering and Spaying: Unaltered cats are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors and territoriality. Spaying or neutering your cats can reduce these tendencies and make them more amenable to socializing.

Supervised Interaction: As your cats become more accustomed to each other's presence, allow them to interact under supervision. Be ready to intervene if tensions rise. Gradually increase the duration of these interactions as they become more comfortable.

Create Safe Spaces: Cats need places where they can retreat if they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Provide hiding spots or high perches where they can escape to when necessary.

Communication: Pay close attention to your cats' body language. Cats communicate through subtle cues like ear position, tail posture, and vocalizations. Understanding these signals can help you gauge their comfort level and intervene if needed.

Positive Reinforcement Training: Training your cats to respond to commands can be beneficial for managing their behavior. Positive reinforcement techniques, like clicker training, can help them learn commands and behaviors that promote harmony.

Seek Professional Help: If your cats' conflicts persist or escalate, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist. They can provide tailored advice and solutions based on your cats' specific needs.

Why Do Cats Fight?

Understanding the underlying reasons for cat conflicts is the first step in helping them get along. Cats may fight for several reasons:

Territorial disputes: Cats are territorial by nature. When a new cat enters their territory, conflicts can arise as they try to establish their dominance and protect their space.

Fear and anxiety: Cats can be fearful of new or unfamiliar cats, leading to aggressive behavior as a defense mechanism.

Social hierarchy: In a multi-cat household, cats may compete for dominance, leading to fights.

Miscommunication: Cats use body language and vocalizations to communicate. Misinterpretation of signals can lead to fights, especially during playtime.

Redirected aggression: If a cat becomes agitated by an external stimulus, they may redirect their aggression toward another cat in the vicinity.

How to Introduce Cats

Properly introducing cats to one another is crucial for minimizing conflicts. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Isolate the new cat: Start by isolating the new cat in a separate room with their own food, water, and litter box. This allows the cats to get used to each other's scent without direct contact.

Step 2: Gradual scent exchange: Swap bedding or toys between the new and resident cats to familiarize them with each other's scent.

Step 3: Controlled visual introduction: Once the cats are comfortable with each other's scent, allow them to see each other through a cracked door or a baby gate. Monitor their reactions closely.

Step 4: Supervised face-to-face meetings: When both cats seem calm during visual introductions, allow them to meet in a controlled environment. Keep the interactions short and positive.

Step 5: Gradual increase in time together: Gradually increase the duration of their meetings as long as they remain calm and non-aggressive.

How Long Does It Take for Cats to Get Along?

The time it takes for cats to get along can vary widely depending on their individual personalities and the circumstances of the introduction. Some cats may become fast friends, while others may require weeks or even months to coexist peacefully. Be patient and allow the cats to set the pace for their relationship. It's essential not to rush the process to avoid setbacks.

How to Stop Cats from Fighting

If you notice your cats fighting, take immediate action to prevent injuries and reduce tension:

1. Distract them: Make loud noises, clap your hands, or toss a soft toy to divert their attention from the fight.

2. Separate them: Use a physical barrier like a cardboard sheet or a blanket to separate the cats without physically intervening.

3. Avoid punishment: Never punish cats for fighting, as it can escalate aggression and create more problems.

4. Consult a veterinarian: If the fights continue or become severe, consult a veterinarian or a feline behaviorist for guidance.

Are My Cats Playing or Fighting?

Cats' play behavior can sometimes look aggressive, making it challenging to distinguish between play and real aggression. Key differences include:

Playful behavior:
- Play-fighting involves swatting, pouncing, and batting without causing harm.
- Cats may take turns being the "chaser" and the "chasee."
- Play-fighting often includes pauses and relaxed body language.

Aggressive behavior:
- Aggressive fights include growling, hissing, and yowling.
- Aggressive cats may have an arched back, puffed fur, and dilated pupils.
- Real aggression is characterized by a lack of breaks and a tense, hostile atmosphere.

Can Long-term Fighting Between Cats Harm To Them?

Yes, long-term fighting between cats can lead to various health issues for the animals involved. Cat fights are not merely displays of dominance or territorial disputes; they can result in physical harm, stress, and potential health problems. Here are some of the health issues that can arise from ongoing catfights:

1. Injuries: Cats have sharp claws and teeth, and when they engage in physical altercations, they can inflict wounds on each other. These wounds can range from superficial scratches to deep puncture wounds. Bites are especially concerning because they can introduce bacteria deep into the tissue, leading to infections.

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2. Abscesses: In many cases, cat bites can lead to abscesses, which are localized pockets of pus. Abscesses are painful and often require veterinary attention. They may need to be lanced and cleaned, and the cat might need antibiotics to treat the infection.

3. Soft Tissue Injuries: Beyond abscesses, catfights can result in other soft tissue injuries, such as bruising, torn muscles, or damaged ligaments. These injuries can be painful and may require veterinary care.

4. Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs): The stress of ongoing conflict can weaken a cat's immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses like URIs. URIs in cats are similar to the common cold in humans and can cause symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and eye discharge.

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5. Stress-Related Health Issues: Prolonged stress from constant fighting can lead to a range of health problems, including gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or vomiting, skin problems, and even urinary issues like feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), which is a condition often triggered by stress.

6. Behavioral Problems: Cats that engage in constant fighting can develop behavioral problems, such as increased aggression, fear, or avoidance of other cats or even people. These behavioral changes can further impact their overall well-being.

7. Weight Loss and Poor Appetite: Cats under chronic stress may experience weight loss due to a reduced appetite or difficulty accessing food when conflicts are ongoing.

8. Overgrooming and Skin Issues: Stress may cause some cats to overgroom themselves, leading to skin problems and potential hair loss.

Should I Get My Cat a Friend?

The decision to get a second cat depends on various factors, including your current cat's personality, your available time, and your living situation. Some considerations are:

1. Personality: Some cats are social and enjoy the company of other cats, while others prefer solitude. Understand your cat's preferences.

2. Time and resources: Owning multiple cats requires more time, space, and financial resources for food, veterinary care, and grooming.

3. Introducing a new cat: Make sure you are prepared to follow the introduction process mentioned earlier to increase the chances of a positive relationship.

4. Breed and age: Some breeds are more sociable than others, and age differences may affect compatibility.

Do Female and Male Cats Get Along?

Gender doesn't necessarily determine how well cats will get along. The relationship between cats is more influenced by individual personalities and their socialization experiences. Male-male and female-female pairings can work well, just as male-female pairs can. However, introducing cats of the opposite sex is generally less likely to result in territorial disputes.

Is Hissing Normal When Introducing Cats?

Hissing is a common reaction when cats are introduced to each other. It's a form of communication, and it usually occurs when cats are unsure or feel threatened. While hissing may be alarming, it is not necessarily a sign of long-term aggression. Monitor the cats closely during introductions and be patient as they adjust to each other's presence.

Do Cats Get Jealous of New Cats?

Cats can experience jealousy to some extent when a new cat is introduced to the household. This jealousy is often a reaction to a perceived loss of attention or territory. To minimize jealousy:

  • 1. Spend quality time with each cat individually to reassure them of your love and attention.
  • 2. Provide separate resources, including food, water, and litter boxes, to prevent competition.
  • 3. Gradually introduce the new cat to the resident cat to avoid abrupt changes.

How Do You Know If Cats Don't Like Each Other?

Cats are typically straightforward with their feelings. Signs that cats don't like each other include:

  • 1. Frequent hissing, growling, or yowling during interactions.
  • 2. Avoidance behavior, where one cat actively avoids the other and hides.
  • 3. Physical aggression leading to injuries.
  • 4. Litter box issues or marking territory to assert dominance.
  • 5. Stress-related health problems, such as over-grooming or urinary issues.

If you observe any of these signs, it may be necessary to consult a veterinarian or a professional cat behaviorist to address the issues and improve the cats' relationship.


Helping cats get along can be a rewarding but challenging process. Understanding why cats fight, how to introduce them, and how to recognize signs of aggression is essential for creating a peaceful multi-cat household. Patience, proper introduction techniques, and the willingness to adapt to your cats' needs are key to fostering a harmonious relationship among your feline companions. Remember that each cat is unique, and the timeline for them to get along may vary, but with care and effort, it is possible for them to coexist peacefully and even become close friends.

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