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How to Safely Break up a Cat Fight: 7 Expert Tips

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Two young ginger and brown cats fighting in the garden

How to Safely Break up a Cat Fight: 7 Expert Tips

While many cats live in perfect harmony with feline companions, some have trouble getting along. Fighting between cats is relatively common and can range from intense games that get slightly out of hand to outright battle. Feline aggression can have several causes, including lack of socialization and fear. Once cats start fighting, distraction is usually the best way to diffuse the situation. Keep reading for seven expert tips on safely breaking up a catfight.

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The 7 Tips to Safely Break Up a Cat Fight

1. Get Ahead of the Situation

It’s sometimes possible to tell when cats are getting ready to face off. There are often situations when you know your cats are likely to become irritated with each other, such as if you have a kitten who habitually becomes over-enthusiastic when engaging with an older, more laid-back pet.

If you hear the tell-tale sounds of a fight developing, the best course of action is to end the fight before it occurs. Distraction is often your best option at this stage. Offering treats and calling names can sometimes get pets to move along. Many cat owners find a quick spritz from a water bottle to be a useful distraction.

cats in grass
Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock

2. Clear the Room

Nothing good ever comes from having spectators hanging around watching a catfight. Children may become distressed and attempt to intervene, and other pets may end up frightened and stressed due to witnessing a serious altercation. Cats in the middle of a serious fight often react on instinct, increasing the chance of bystanders being injured due to redirected or defensive aggression.

It’s best to move the kids and dogs to another room and close the door. Make sure to leave an open escape route from where the cats are located just in case one of your babies decides to take the high road.

3. Use Distractions

Noise and water are both tried and true ways to bring an end to catfights. Clapping your hands or giving the two combatants a squirt with a water bottle often puts an end to altercations. Squirting cats isn’t usually a great way to convince kitties to stop doing things like hanging out on sofas, but it can be an appropriate choice for immediately ending a dangerous catfight.

man spraying using bottle spray
Image Credit: qvattro, Shutterstock

4. Use a Barrier

Cats who won’t move on in response to attempts at distraction sometimes need to be physically separated to prevent injuries. If you must physically break up a fight, grab a sofa cushion and try to poke it between the cats to get some space between the two. Don’t try to grab or physically separate fighting cats, as you’ll likely have scratches and bites that may send you to the doctor’s office.

5. Give Cats Space to Cool Down

While it may be tempting to approach your pets after a fight, it’s usually best to give them time to calm down before attempting to interact with them. Cats that have been behaving aggressively can turn on even their favorite people if they still need time and space to calm down. Kitties thwacking their tails with dilated pupils likely need a few more minutes to decompress before they are ready for interaction.

adorable ginger cat wearing fabric collar when fighting_RJ22_shutterstock
Image By: RJ22, Shutterstock

6. Keep Cats Separated

Give both cats time to cool down. Depending on your pets’ history of fighting, you may need to keep the two apart for anywhere from a few days to a week or so. Cats that have been separated, even for short periods, do best when reintroduced to each other slowly to minimize aggression.

Cats that are getting to know each other often benefit from hanging out in separate parts of the house for just a bit longer if they’re having trouble getting along.

7. Don’t Punish Your Cats

Don’t punish your cats for fighting. It almost always makes the situation worse as it can increase stress which can contribute to aggression. It can also make your cats less likely to trust you and increase their sense of discomfort, leading to stressed-out cats and further behavioral issues. Ignoring unwanted antics is often the best course of action. Reward your cats when they behave reasonably, but don’t punish them if things don’t go as smoothly as you might wish.

Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

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Tips for Minimizing Conflict Between Cats

You can take a few basic steps to minimize conflict between cats, including providing enough toys and games to keep cats busy and sufficient resources to prevent competition.

Toys and Games

Cats often become aggressive when they’re not receiving enough mental stimulation and physical activity. Bored cats often become stressed, which can lead to anxiety and aggression. Giving cats several toys to play with and activities to keep them busy goes a long way toward supporting mental health, which lays the foundation for a peaceful household. Don’t forget to provide vertical spaces for your cats to explore—hanging out in high places is often calming to cats.


Cats sometimes become aggressive when competing for food or litter box access. Most experts recommend having one food and water set up per cat, at least one litter box per pet, and an extra for good measure, all placed in different locations. The additional litter box makes it impossible for dominant cats to limit access to all bathroom options at once, giving more submissive pets a chance to relieve themselves in peace.


Slowly introducing new companions to the household often helps prevent territorial aggression from developing between cats. Allowing cats time to readjust to each other when one’s been away from home can also help reduce conflict.

Start by keeping both cats apart to allow them to become accustomed to the other’s presence. Switch the cats’ beds and toys daily to expose them both to the other’s scent. Next, separate your cats using a baby gate or other barrier, but allow them brief supervised glimpses of each other augmented by pleasant things like treats and special food to encourage the development of positive associations.

Supervised introductions should be short and pleasant, and using harnesses and leashes to keep cats under control the first few times they hang out together in the same room is helpful. End all interactions on a positive note before any bad behavior gets started. Take the process slowly and give your pets time to adjust.


Watching two cats you love fight can be particularly scary, but the fights can also be dangerous. Fighting cats can injure themselves and others in your home who are around when the fur starts flying. The best way to stop a catfight is to take proactive steps to prevent the development of situations that commonly result in aggression.

If your cats fight, never physically grab one with your hands. Try distraction, and if that doesn’t work, try using a large sofa cushion or other barrier to put space between the parties. Don’t punish or scold your cats after fighting, and give them plenty of time to calm down before engaging.

Featured Image Credit: Mariya Ilmaz, Shutterstock

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