Have you ever witnessed a catfight? It’s quite the sight to behold. The involved cats can be very vocal and are clearly armed and dangerous – but can cats kill each other or is it all just noise and show?
Often the pair of felines involved in a dispute will circle each other, growling, spitting, and hissing in an attempt to warn the other about encroaching on its territory. Cats hardly ever jump into a fight right away. They might spend an hour or so with this posturing behavior, assessing each other to see if they’ll win the fight.
Cats are intelligent, and they know the risk involved with getting into a fight. The sharp claws and teeth on cats can do some serious damage to skin and tissues, resulting in a trip to the vet. A catfight is a confrontation most felines try to avoid, but sometimes it’s inevitable that the cats square off and start a fight.
If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear cats going at each other, is it something to worry about? What if your housecat decides to pick a fight with a feral or a stary? Catfights are a nasty endeavor.
A street cat will have a stronger mental resilience and body than your soft housecat that’s used to sleeping in your bed and getting food when they need it. As a result, your kitty will probably end up in a bad way if they decide to tangle with a feral or stray.
Do Cats Kill Each Other in Fights?
So, do cats fight to the death?
When you hear the cats vocally threatening each other, it sure seems that way. However, the reality is cats rarely fight to the death. Sure, there’s a couple of videos on YouTube showing cats that do take confrontations too far, killing their opponent, but it’s uncommon.
That said, a catfight doesn’t have to end in death for it to affect your cat’s health severely. Cats’ claws and teeth are razor sharp. Unlike dogs, cats’ claws are part of their skeleton. The sheath around the claw constantly sheds, keeping your kitty’s talons as sharp as a knife.
They use their claws for catching and holding onto prey. Any cat owner eventually finds claws stuck in curtains and furniture around the house, and that shows you how sharp their claws are. If they decide to use those claws on another cat, it could wind up with a serious injury that requires stitches to close.
Cat claws also carry the bacterium Bartonella henselae, responsible for causing “cat scratch disease.” CSD causes a severe infection that can lead to many complications in cats and humans.
While a cat’s claws are cause for concern in catfights, so are its teeth. If your cat sustains an injury in a catfight, you’ll need to rush to the vet from treatment ASAP. While cats might not kill each other in a fight, they can cause injuries that have long-lasting effects on your cat’s health.
All Talk, No Show
In most cases of cats posturing against each other, they put on a vocal display of dominance, but they rarely engage in combat with each other. The cats will circle each other, with fur standing up and their backs arched. They’ll growl and bare teeth, but they rarely lunge at each other and start a fight.
Cats understand the detrimental effects of starting a fight, and neither want to end up in a life-threatening position. However, that also means that when cats do start a fight – they mean business. If they do engage with each other, it’s not going to be a good outcome for either of them.
Even if one cat does kill the other, the survivor will likely leave the scene with severe injuries, possibly perishing from its wounds a few hours or days later if they don’t receive treatment. Like humans, cats experience infection in open wounds.
When cats bite, they use the long canine teeth to tear at the opponent’s skin, leaving puncture wounds that can affect internal organs. Many cats go for the throat out of instinct, and a deep bite could cause internal bleeding and death post-fight.
Like the cat’s claws, cat saliva also contains the Bartonella henselae bacterium. Young cats are at higher risk of carrying the bacterium than older cats, but it’s possible in all felines. The puncture wounds can close at the skin’s surface reasonably quickly due to the sharp and surgical shape of the cat’s canines.
As the wound closes, it traps the bacteria under the cat’s skin, causing a host of complications with your cat’s health. Even if the cat isn’t a carrier of Bartonella henselae, the wound may seal and experience infection, causing the development of pus under the skin.
These fighting wounds can end up septic, causing severe illness in your kitty. If left untreated, your cat could end up dying from sepsis. If your cat is in a fight, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet as soon as possible for a checkup.
However, most catfights occur at night due to cats nocturnal behavior making them more active during the nighttime hours. Therefore, if your cat experiences severe wounds, you’ll need to find an emergency vet accepting casualty victims in the middle of the night.
In some cases, you might not even hear your cats fighting at night, and you might only notice their injuries the following day. As soon as you become aware of your cat’s injuries, take them to the vet right away.
Along with the Bartonella henselae bacterium, cats can also carry feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus in saliva. If they bite other cats, they can transmit the disease.
Why Do Cats Fight With Each Other?
Cats get into it with each other for various reasons. Some of the more common reasons for catfights include the following.
- Defending territory.
- Attempting to extend its range.
- Stray or feral cats entering homes through cat flaps looking for food.
- The number of cats in the local area claiming territorial rights.
- Competition for breeding rights where female cats are in heat.
Regardless of the reason sparking a catfight, the outcome is usually the same, and most cats survive. However, if your catfights with a stray or feral, there’s no way to find the other cat. The cat that wins usually gets territorial rights, and the other cat will find a home elsewhere.
Some cats may encounter each other several times, posturing and growling, without ever getting into a fight.
Will Introducing A New Cat To Your Home Cause Cat Fights?
If you’re introducing a new cat into your home, typically, you won’t have any problems. Most cats can get along with each other. However, some cats might have behavioral disorders that make them adverse to being around other cats.
Bringing a new cat home is always a risk, especially if it’s an adult with a history of neglect or abuse. Sometimes, doing the right thing and adopting a rescue isn’t a smart move, especially if you already have cats at home.
How Can I Prevent Cats From Fighting?
If you want to prevent cats from fighting, keep your kitty indoors at night. Letting your cat prowl around the yard or street at night is asking for trouble, they’ll eventually run into another feline, and the sparks could fly.
Neutering males and spaying females also help in reducing the chance of catfights. Many altercations involve breeding rights for cats. Taking this factor out of the equation reduces the possibility of fights and injuries occurring due to the brawl.
If Cats Are Fighting, How Can You Stop It?
If you’re lying in bed and you hear your cat posturing with another neighborhood feline, take action immediately to prevent a fight from occurring. Grab a spray bottle of water and go outside to the animals. Chances are, the other cat will flee as soon as it sees you.
However, if you’re late to the scene and the cats are fighting, spray them with the water to get them to stop. This tactic usually works, and the cats will disengage, and the aggressor will run away.
Never try and separate fighting cats using your hands. In the heat of battle, the cats might tune on your scratching and biting you. Cats’ claws and teeth will tear through your skin, causing severe injuries and the possibility of contracting the cat-scratch disease.
As a result, you’ll need to make a trip to the vet and a trip to the hospital – that’s expensive.
In Closing – Yes, Cats Kill Each Other, But It’s Rare
Cats can kill each other in fights, but it’s not the regular outcome for these engagements. In most cases, the cats will vocally posture and separate before they decide to break out into a full-on catfight.
However, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that one cat could kill the other. If your cat gets into it with a street cat, the feral will likely have the upper hand in combat, injuring or killing your kitty.
Save yourself a trip to the vet or the heartache of losing your kitty, and keep her in the house at night. (Don’t forget to lock the cat flap!)