How To Stop Cats Fighting Over Territory: A Complete Guide

Disputes over territory are natural and instinctual. However, fights can lead to cats hurting each other, so you must intervene to prevent any conflicts before matters escalate. That’s the case whether your cat’s fighting with an indoor feline companion or a neighborhood cat.

To stop cats fighting over territory, intervene by clapping or breaking the line of sight between the cats. After that, discourage future fights by keeping the two cats separate at all times, socializing one or both cats, or getting them spayed or neutered so that they’re less hormonal.

Cats are more dominant and aggressive when their hormones are heightened. So, spaying or neutering the cat should reduce the number of fights it instigates. Also, poor socialization leads to hostility, so slowly introducing your cat to others, including the ones that don’t get along, can be beneficial.

Do Cats Fight Over Territory?

In the wild, cats often spend time alone outside of their feral colony, carving out wandering paths that belong to them. These spots are scent-marked to warn off other cats and claim the area. A cat will start fights with others that encroach on this territory.

Of course, cats aren’t strictly territorial if they’ve been reared with other cats in your home. Here, indoor territorial lines will often change, depending on which cat demands the space at that time.

This is often determined through posturing instead of fights, whereby the cat warns the other that a fight isn’t worthwhile. Whichever cat backs down first is the loser.

This becomes more problematic outdoors or with cats unfamiliar to each other. The cat in question will consider your home, yard, or other areas its territory, so it’ll start fights to defend them against newcomers that it’s not socialized to accept.

Often, one cat will purposefully go into another cat’s territory to challenge it, especially if food has become sparse in its home ground. Therefore, territorial fighting is instinctual. However, this doesn’t mean that territorial fights should be permitted to happen at home or in the neighborhood.

Why Do Cats Fight Outside?

Cats fight outside as a way to:

  • Protect their home territory from other cats
  • Scare another cat away and claim territory

There are reasons why hostile relations develop between neighborhood cats, such as:

Intact Cats

Cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered are known as intact cats. These cats will have hormones raging through their bodies, making them territorial and aggressive. They’ll be more likely to carve out firm territories and defend them, especially against other cats in the neighborhood.

Lack of Socialization

Cats are taught how to interact and resolve disputes with other cats at a young age. If your cat was taken from its mother too young or has never interacted with other cats, it may be poorly socialized.

Such cats may take every confrontation with another cat as a threat to its territory and person. This leads to more fights, especially those that escalate into physical conflict.

Insecurity and Defensiveness

Your cat may be insecure and overly defensive. Therefore, when it comes across other cats outside, its only recourse is to become defensive over its territory.

It’ll engage in a fight as a means of ensuring its safety, even if it was never challenged or threatened.

Personality Clash

Cats get into fights more often when they experience a personality clash. With territorial fighting, this usually manifests when both cats are equally insecure, defensive, and feisty.

Both will be quick to challenge the other. As the posturing continues, neither will back down, and the fight will escalate into physical recourse.

Connection to an Earlier Bad Experience

Your cat might get into more fights than normal if it had a past traumatic experience with a cat or human.

An earlier psychological and physical trauma will make it more insecure and defensive, so it’ll be motivated to protect its space with greater ferocity, attacking other cats.

Do Cats Fight to the Death?

Cats are unlikely to fight to the death when disputing territory.

They have a unique hierarchical system, and most fights are about establishing dominance rather than physically hurting the other cat. Therefore, fights usually involve vocalizations and posturing to scare the other cat into accepting its subordinate position.

During a fight, your cat will make loud screeches, yowls, puff up its fur, and arch its back. This is to establish itself as the dominant cat.

If the other cat is frightened or intimidated, it may back down and leave. If the other cat refuses to go, the two will continue posturing until your cat backs down or both start fighting.

Fights are notoriously brief and vicious, with both cats disengaging at random intervals, depending on how the fight plays out. Neither wants to kill the other but instead encourages one to give up. Once a cat decides it’s losing or has had enough, it’ll disengage, posture, and leave.

This process is true for domesticated and feral cats, and neither is likely to fight to the death or kill another cat during a territorial battle.

why do cats fight outside?

Are Spayed Female Cats Territorial?

Spayed female cats are less agitated and anxious. Therefore, they’re less territorially aggressive than intact females. With that said, spayed female cats can still be territorial.

The female may have certain areas she prefers to keep. She may be poorly socialized and view other cats as threatening. If another cat is consistently bullying your spayed female, this can make her territorial. This is less likely when the environment is predictable and there are fewer territorial threats.

She’ll express this by scent marking her territory to warn enemies. However, because she has been spayed, she’s still less likely to express this through physical aggression.

How To Stop My Cat from Fighting with the Neighbor’s Cat

Although they’re inevitable, territorial fights shouldn’t be accepted between cats. They may not result in death, but they can sometimes cause grievous injuries.

If these territorial fights have become regular exchanges between your cat and the neighbor’s cat, you’ll need to intervene by doing the following:

Spaying or Neutering

Cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered are driven by hormones, so they’re far more territorial and hostile. According to Veterinary Clinics of North America, spaying and neutering can significantly reduce territorial aggression in felines.

That’s because an unneutered male cat will have higher testosterone levels than a neutered one. Therefore, he’ll exert his masculinity more often.

Likewise, an unspayed female will be more anxious and restless than a spayed female. Although territorial fighting is more common in males, females will also be calmer and less easily agitated after getting fixed.

Direct Intervention

You can directly intervene to stop a dispute. If you do this often enough, you’ll disrupt your cat’s aggression, thereby minimizing the problem.

Then, cats are unlikely to resolve their issues through physical fighting. Most of the time, their loud vocalizations and posturing are nothing more than bluffs to scare the other cat into backing off.

If you see territorial aggression, interrupt the fight by doing the following:

  • A loud clap
  • Getting in the way of the two cats’ line of sight
  • Placing a blanket on top of your cat during fights to distract it and interrupt the fight

To avoid scratches and bites, never intervene in a fight using your hands.

Keep a Regular Routine  

Cats are more likely to start fights when already agitated, as this will give them cause to defend what little consistency they already have, namely their territory.

If you’ve recently moved home, changed up the layout of your home, or introduced new people to the living environment, your cat may start fights with its feline companions or neighborhood cats.

Give your cat a more consistent routine and environment.

Keep Them Separate

If the fighting persists, agree on a schedule with your neighbor for when each cat goes outside. If the two enemy cats never see each other outdoors, they’ll stop fighting.

Get a Microchip Cat Flap

Your cat will be most defensive of your home, as this is its main territory. Fights are likely to break out if you introduce a new cat too quickly to your home.

The same is true if the neighbor’s cat is allowed to come into your home at random intervals. While you may be pleased about the new addition, your cat will interpret it as a threat.

You can install a microchip cat flap on your door so that the cat flap only opens when your cat’s microchip (ideally worn on its collar) is recognized.

In so doing, you don’t have to worry about your neighbor’s cat coming into your house and fighting with your cat. Your cat can then safely come and go as it pleases.

Supervise Play Time

The cats may be fighting because they’re unfamiliar with each other. They may stop posturing if you socialize the two through slow introductions.

Arrange a play date with your neighbor’s cat, where both cats meet each other indoors in a controlled environment. Supervise their indoor activities together and break up any conflicts.

Once they’re interacting peacefully, you can allow them to spend supervised time together outside. 

Socialize Your Cat

Your cat may be picking more fights because it doesn’t understand how to peacefully interact with other cats. So, consider getting another indoor cat and gradually introducing the two.

Once the aggressive cat begins acting calmly with your new cat, allow them to interact and play together. This will teach them that other cats can be friends and teach them necessary social skills that should help them avoid fights with new cats.

Block Line Of Sight

Your cat may be building up to a fight long before it goes outdoors. Merely seeing another cat in its yard may cause it to hiss, claw at the window, or yowl in preparation for a fight. If the cat can go inside and outside as it pleases, it may even rush out to confront the other cat.

The best way to avoid this is to use curtains and blinds to cover up the windows. This ensures that neighborhood cats cannot see inside your home, and your cat can’t view the neighborhood cat walking around. This may cause the two to go their separate ways when they see each other.  

My Cat Is being Bullied By Another Cat

Perhaps a neighborhood cat picks on your cat and makes it more agitated. Usually, the bullying cat is the most aggressive and, thus, the dominant one in the area. It’ll assert its dominance by constantly picking on your cat, with who it may have a personality clash.

The dominant cat may continue bullying your cat after it has signaled submission. While this isn’t common, it can lead to your cat becoming stressed out, frustrated, overly anxious, and depressed.

Therefore, if you find that another cat is bullying your cat, you must intervene and stop it. Separate the two cats and avoid letting them have contact with one another. This may involve scaring away the other cat or keeping your feline indoors, so they can’t fight.

How To Stop My Cat from Bullying My Other Cat   

There are ways to stop your cat from bullying another cat:

territorial aggression in cats

Reduce Competition for Resources

Perhaps your cats have been neutered or spayed, but one still bullies the other. In this case, the fight is likely over resources, although the two may war over sunning spots, toys, foods, and sleeping areas.

To stop the fights, separate their resources. You can do this by providing separate yet identical:

  • Beds
  • Food bowls
  • Litter boxes
  • Scratching posts
  • Toys
  • Water bowls

Place them in different areas of the home. Bullying in cats is normally a result of territorial behavior, meaning that your cats are unwilling to share their resources.

Create Perches and Hiding Places

Cats need space to unwind, even if your cat is social by nature. If the two cats are crowded and lack the space to separate, one will bully the other to get respite.

You can fix this by providing your cats with perches and hiding places inside your house. This ensures they can have a great view of the environment and receive some much-needed solace. Aim for safe and dark spots where your cat can avoid nuisances, as well as get time to relax without stress.

Remove Scent Marked Targets

Cats mark their territory by rubbing their scent or spraying urine on household items to warn other cats. Urine spraying in selected spots indicates territorial behavior among cats.

If your cat has been scent marking various items in your home, this could be making your other cat anxious and agitated.

Therefore, you can stop territorial aggression by removing scent-marked targets from your home. This may include towels and mats, which are ideal for cat scent marking.

Separate Your Cats

If the bullying continues, keep the two cats separate.

Do this by allowing one to roam around the house while the other stays behind a closed door. Allow equal turns for both cats, as this will avoid feelings of jealousy or neglect.

After some time, slowly reintroduce your cats under strict supervision. If they seem relaxed, they’re ready to be around one another again.

Before you get your cats fixed, they may need to be separated at intervals to calm down. Once they’ve endured this time out, they should be docile and spend time together on peaceful terms.

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Richard Parker

I'm Richard, the lead writer for Senior Cat Wellness. I'm experienced in all cat health-related matters, behavioral issues, grooming techniques, and general pet care. I'm a proud owner of 5 adult cats (all adopted strays), including a senior cat who is now 20.

2 thoughts on “How To Stop Cats Fighting Over Territory: A Complete Guide”

  1. Richard,
    So glad I found this site. It has provided me with a lot of information. We had adopted 2 cats 15 months ago and one of them died quite suddenly. We recently adopted a new cat as a “buddy” for our cat Jacques, but there is a lot of tension in the house now. We are not sure if we will be able to keep the new cat as it seems like she may have come from a one cat household. However, with all the information you have provided on this site, I’m hoping that perhaps we an figure this all out. Thank you again for sharing your insight and knowledge. It is much appreciated.

  2. What do l do with a mean male black cat beating up my my sweet male cat. Any suggestions before l do something that’s going to make me cry. It comes around any where from 12 to 3 am. Has been bitten 3 or more times and now has a scratched eye watering. It has me staying up on edge every night. Any suggestions? Please help me figure this out because I’m very stressed. I tried putting my cat inside and he will not tolerate that at all.


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