are cats territorial with kittens

Territorial problems often occur when a new cat is brought into a household, when a young kitten reaches maturity, or when a cat encounters neighborhood cats outside. It’s not uncommon for a cat to be territorially aggressive toward one cat in a family, and friendly and tolerant to another.

Why Are Cats Territorial?

A cat, especially one that is territorial, may view other cats and pets as intruders. It makes no difference if they encounter neighborhood cats outside or a new cat in the house.

In order to defend their territory, food sources, and potential mates from other cats, the ancestors of modern cats—and feral cats are still affected by this—had to make an effort to stand out. These instincts can become more prominent even in a home with a well-treated cat.

Cats are able to avoid each other or select different times to visit neutral areas, so overlaps between different patches don’t cause any issues. If they happen to cross paths by accident, the interaction usually consists of the two cats turning away from one another and exchanging threatening gestures; in other words, a serious confrontation is avoided, though both cats pay close attention to the cues each other gives off.

Cats’ inclination to associate with other cats and form social bonds has increased due to the variety of habitats and conditions in which they live. However, even a cat that gets along well with other people needs a place of its own. Others ought to respect this haven, and the cat shouldn’t have to defend it.

Only when two very self-assured cats cross paths and neither of them wants to back down do fights break out. Then, through conflict, their respective positions in the hierarchy are determined.

Cats can easily come into contact with one another in overlapping areas that are part of different territories. Since tomcats claim much larger territories, these overlaps are more pronounced in their case. Furthermore, a tomcat patrolling his patch will typically include several territories that belong to female cats, giving him the chance to determine which of them is currently in heat.

Cats typically only associate when they want to mate, fight over food, or settle territorial disputes. Specifically, cats fiercely guard the more compact area surrounding their primary sleeping spot.

Signs of Territorial Cat Aggression

The most common times for cats to exhibit territorial aggression are when they reach sexual maturity, when a new kitten or cat enters the home, when they relocate to a strange area, or when other unusual cats intrude on their perceived territory. Signs of territorial aggression can include:

  • Stalking
  • Chasing and ambushing a perceived intruder
  • Hissing and swatting
  • Biting
  • Scratching
  • Growling

Avoid attempting to separate the two if territorial aggression turns into a full-fledged fight as this could lead to injuries. Instead, try to distract them. You can often startle them out of fight mode by blowing a whistle or dousing them in water.

If your cats are fighting all the time and it’s not improving, consult a veterinarian or a pet behaviorist.


Do cats get aggressive with their kittens?

If a mother cat is threatened by other cats, people, excessive noise or other stressful situations she may abandon her kittens or develop aggressive tendencies towards them. First-time mothers may also be more prone to behavior problems.

How can you tell if a cat is territorial?

While some cats are more laid back about the space they live in, others have a territorial nature about them. This quirk can, at times, prove problematic. A territorial cat might use urine marking (spraying) to indicate their territory or even show signs of aggression (hissing, stalking or attacking another cat).

How do cats show dominance to kittens?

Simple dominance will be exhibited by a cat by marking or spraying urine on territory, stealing and hoarding toys, rubbing its face on items it wants to claim as its own, claiming specific areas to sleep, pushing other cats away from the food bowl, and/or starting at or physically intimidating other cats.

Why is my cat attacking my new kitten?

While your cat may just be acting territorial, it may also be uncomfortable and more prone to attack if it’s sick. Schedule a visit with a veterinarian so they can run tests and check your cat for an underlying illness. If there’s a medical cause, the vet will prescribe medication to help relieve the cat’s pain.