Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between cats playing or fighting. Because felines instinctively pounce on each other for play, it can be difficult to know if we should stop this behavior or encourage it.

In young cats and kittens, playing is very important for social skills. It’s teaching them skills to hunt; remember they are prey animals – learning to stalk, chase and pounce. It can also build confidence in a shy kitten. Just imagine how powerful the runt of the litter can feel if they manage to tackle one of the larger kitties.

When cats are playing, it can really burn off some energy. My two cats seem to go into play mode every night right before we are heading to bed. Some nights they are so cute, they will wrestle with each other and then frolic around chasing each other, it’s so fun to watch. But at times their play will turn into really rough play or wait, are they fighting? How can we tell?

The Difference Between Playing And Fighting Kitties

Well there are ways you can tell if your cats are playing or if it went too far and it turned into a fight. A few ways you can tell the difference is by looking at their ears. When cats are having fun their ears are forward and non threatening. When cats fight they pin their ears back and pull their head back. This can be followed by hissing or growling. You will know a true cat fight from nails being out, fur flying, bite wounds etc.

If you feel your cats’ play went too far and has turned into a fight you can stop it from progressing by stepping in and initiating the play. A great way to do this is by using a wand toy or any interactive toy and let them turn their attention to the toy instead of the other cat.

If you feel your cats are fighting more than playing, you can help prevent this by making sure they don’t have to compete for things. Be sure each cat has their own food bowl, also make sure to have one more litter box than cats, have a bed for each of the cats as well as perches and toys.

Cat play is important and healthy for your cats, sometimes it can get a bit rough but don’t panic, it could be just a moment of rough play.


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