Pets In Practice


Telephone: 07843 559441

Cat Behaviour Advice

Pets in Practise is the only veterinary approved behavioural practice for the following Veterinary Centres:

  • Burghfield Veterinary Surgery – Burghfield Common
  • Moor Cottage Veterinary Hospital - Binfield
  • St Vincents Veterinary Surgery - Wokingham
  • Sunninghill Vets - Sunninghill
  • Castle Vets - Reading
  • Beechwood Veterinary Centre – Woodley and Twyford

Please contact Pets in Practise on 07843 559441 or via our contact us page for more details.

Does your Cat:

  • Show aggression to people or other cats?cat-behaviour-advice-img
  • Eliminate or scent mark indoors?
  • Scratch furniture?
  • Not use the litter tray?
  • Keep you awake at night?

 Examples of causes for cat to cat aggression

Cats are territorial in nature and will typically define their own territory size due to age, individual personality, the availability of shelter and food as well as sexual status. An entire male is far more likely to roam a larger area than a female due to the desire to meet and reproduce with available female cats. As soon as a cat is restricted to indoors and/or has a limited territory area outdoors it is more likely that external circumstances, instead of the individual concerned, are determining territory size. This situation of restricted territory size can become problematic for a cat who due to personality, age, availability of shelter and food and sexual status may require a larger territory than the owner’s homestead or outdoor environment will allow. This problem further increases when there is competition over territory in the form of multiple cat households or other cats living close by. At this point, a cat, that can neither define its own free-roaming territory or finds conspecifics invading his or her predefined territory, can suffer from territorial stress. Effects of stress can cause the individual to be aggressive, exhibit inappropriate scent marking and house soiling behaviours, withdraw from social contact, excessively groom, over or under eat as well as causing suppression of the immune system leading to illnesses such as Lower Urinary Tract Disorder.

Cats define their territory by the use of chemical communication (scent) which is distributed from scent-marking glands in the face, chin, feet and tail. As some meetings with other cats leads to fierce fighting, which can affect the success of survival as an injured cat will struggle to hunt, cats work hard to avoid interaction with other cats. Cat communication has been developed so territories can be defined without the need to physically defend it from other cats. This is why a cat uses highly developed scent marking behaviours and why visual and vocal communication in cats is less well developed. This is also why some animals, which are forced to have smaller territory due a limitation in area or resources, or are required to share territory with other animals (example in multi-cat households) often leave to find territories with less competition or suffer from stress if they are prevented from doing so.

Not only is the home territory area regularly scent marked by the resident cat but as it is common for cats to have adjoining shared pathways with other cats, these areas are regularly patrolled in order to leave the cat's scent. The action is intended to avoid close meetings with other cats, typically a cat will have its own individual route or operate a “time-share” system in which the same pathway is shared but at different times.

A cat will typically look for the best territory but will also readily accept a second best territory if the prime territory has too much competition. Even though a cat’s relationship with their owner could be well established innate territorial behaviours will override any loyalty to the owner if the cat’s territory becomes too competitive or resources contained within it too scarce. With all this in mind in order to minimise stress it is essential that a cat’s territory becomes well defined and contains all required resources. Further to this there should be a restriction on competitors to this territory which is always why it is necessary to provide much more space, food, litter trays and shelter than is possibly required if you have more than one resident cat.

Social Aggression

It is not always territory that causes feuding to occur between two resident cats, aggression can be the result of other undefined triggers or circumstances. Toleration to multi cat households can be a subsequence of early learning. Social aggression is likely to develop once the aggressor or victim reaches social maturity and any further triggers behind the need for the aggression are often difficult to find.

Redirected Aggression

The occurrence of redirected aggression is often more common in cats than it is in dogs. Its roots stem from frustration, fear or excitement over something the cat cannot access. Due to the physiological response felt the cat may redirect its aggression on a nearby cat, that wasn't the cause of the aggression. The victim is therefore unprepared for the attack and often left traumatized with the possibility of an instant and permanent fear of the aggressor.  Even though this type of aggression between the two cats might never reoccur, the intensity and unpredictability of the attack can leave the victim eternally fearful of the aggressor and the aggressor to make an association between the victim and behaviour experience.

Physiological Causes

Conditions such as arthritis, hyperthyroidism, diseases of the Central Nervous System and certain prescribed drugs (especially steroids as they raise the level of cortisol in the body) can all affect a cat in such a way as to cause aggression. Therefore a thorough veterinary examination must take place prior to any behaviour consideration being made. Hyperthyroidism is commonly found in older cats. If a cat has reduced flight capability due to arthritis, confrontation behaviours, namely aggression may be increased.

Kitten Socialisation

It is extremely important for kittens to be socialised in order so they can mature into cats that are accepting of, and comfortable in, the company of humans. Cats are kept as pets (pet is defined as an animal that is kept for companionship and enjoyment by people) and therefore there is an expectation of a relationship or bond between the cat/kitten and their human family. In order for this bond to br successful, the kittens needs to have been exposed to many varieties of human (child, adult, elderly person, male, female, different races etc) whilst still with the breeder. This is because the important socialisation period for cats begins at two weeks and ceases around seven weeks. During this time expousre to novel environments and sympathetic handling of the kittens by a wide range of humans is essential in ensuring the kitten matures to become a cat that is well socialised and is able to develop a good attacehment, relationships to its new owner/s and does not become unduly anxious in it surroundings due to a lack of appropiate socialisation.

If anything is affecting your enjoyment of your cat, or your cat's enjoyment of life don't put up with it - contact Pets In Practise.

Looking for help?


Are you looking for a pet behaviourist to help with your pet's problem behaviour?

If yes please click here to read how to ensure you get the best possible behaviour help you and your pet deserves.

Also click here to read what can tragically happen if you allow an unqualified and/or inexperienced person help you with your pet's behaviour or training
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Nicole Crooks RVN, BSc(Hons), DipCABT, NCert(AnBeh)

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