Fighting Cats

fighting cats

Fighting Cats is something I rarely see but hear. The very special sound of a Tom cat howling in a standoff is very distinct.

Cats fighting is a mixture of Sumo Wrestling, Poker and Politics. It is rarely seen in the wild as there is sufficient space for male cats to have their own territory. But in suburbia, the stray or feral cat’s territory may overlap with another’s and that’s when the fur could fly.

The pre-fight procedures are it seems designed to minimise the need for actual fighting. The pre-fight Sumo Style standoff and posing can help to identify the “superior” cat which might lead to the other cat backing off.

fighting cats

When the two cats come across each other the cats will make themselves look bigger (arched back, fur erect, legs stretched) and present a look that says, “I am dominant” and not fearful.

The howling then starts. These sounds are extraordinary and very hostile. I can only presume that they are meant to achieve a dominance one over the the other to avoid the fight that could result in the dominant cat being injured despite winning the fight. That would be bad for his chances of survival.

The game of psyching each other out intensifies and continues with a clear demonstration of intent. The dominant cat will do a “dry run” of the killing neck bite (much like a sportsman practices his stroke before doing it for real). This tells the other cat what is to come if he doesn’t back down and sod off.

If the protagonists are evenly matched there will be a stand off, much howling and a very gradual retreat to allow each to withdraw without losing face (and looking weak) thus mirroring what happens so often in negotiations and arguments between nations and people.

Occasionally all the posturing cannot stop the fight, which is intense and will stop for the displays to continue for another chance to resolve the dispute without serious injury.

A winner is eventually found and he will perform a ritualistic and ceremonial sniffing of the ground. The loser understands this as the end of the fight. It all sounds familiar to me.


  • “Cat Watching”
  • My own observations of fighting cats
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Fighting Cats — 1 Comment

  1. This post gives me the opportunity to share a recent situation with my cat, Mitzy, and a free roaming indoor outdoor neighbor cat, named Callie. (A calico, of course.)

    Mitzy lived her first two years as a feral, but since taking her in 3 years ago, she’s adapted pretty well to indoor life. At first, she demanded outdoor time, and I accommodated her with leash and halter. She became like a dog, with morning and afternoon outside time. I let her wander in the fenced yard, and could grab the leash if she looked like she was going to jump up on the fence.

    Now, we’re in a different setting, and she’s had an screened outdoor porch. She can see birds that frequent the feeder and birdbath, which has kept her entertained for over 2 years.

    Recently, she escaped in the early morning when my house mate didn’t see her dash out. When I got up, and she wasn’t around to greet me, I searched everywhere in the house. After a half hour, I heard a meow at the door. She wanted in, and I was so glad to see her.

    Since that accidental outing, she’s been howling to go out. She’s actually vocalized several sounds I’ve never heard from her before, or any cat I’ve had.

    So, I started the routine once more, and she seems happier. The problem is that she has it in for Callie. She watches her with a steady gaze, as she relaxes on her porch, while grooming or napping.

    A few weeks ago, Mitzy started to go after Callie, but I grabbed her. She growled, and bit me! Now, I was seen as the enemy!

    Yesterday, Mitzy and I were sitting in our outside chairs, facing Callie’s porch, about 40′ from our spot.
    I read, but also keep an eye on Mizy, and Callie. I can tell by Mitzy’s look if Callie is on the move.

    I looked up just in time to see Callie approaching us in her gentle unassuming way, and watched in horror as Mitzy took off like “a bat outta hell” after her. She chased Callie around her house, and up on a fence. The noise and screaming was ferocious and frightening. I moved as quickly as I could to follow them. Callie jumped down, and Mitzy continued her pursuit, chasing her into her house. The owners were out on the porch, with Mitzy’s halter and leash in hand, saying “She attacked our cat!” I apologized, and continued to look for Mitzy. During the chase, I’d noticed two cars driving in opposite directions at the scene, and knew the possiblity existed that Mitzy had been hit. But neither car had stopped, so I let that thought go.

    As I walked back to our spot, I saw her sitting there, as if nothing had changed. I felt a deep sense of relief.

    Yet, I know that this can happen again, and am feeling anxiety about the dangers of this situation. There is no other place for us to be, unless I carry her to the much larger common grassy area. She will be exposed to many more houses, and cats, even though there is a rule against free roaming cats. It’s not enforced.

    I’m considering buying one of those tent structures at this point, but wonder if she might even claw her way through the material, to get at Callie.

    I’m a stumped “problem solver”…

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