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Cats are territorial, which can lead to fighting over food, water, shelter, or a specific location. This fighting behavior is common among cats who aren’t spayed or neutered. Through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), nuisance behaviors such as fighting, spraying, yowling, and roaming are eliminated. If this is your first time performing TNR, take a look at our guide to get started. If you’re already a TNR expert and the fighting cats are new to the colony you care for, you might also need our tips for trap-shy cats for suggestions on how to target a specific cat for trapping.
Even after being spayed or neutered, some cats will continue to fight with other cats. Sometimes it takes time for the hormones that drive fighting behaviors to completely leave a cat’s system. In other instances, a cat who has just returned from being spayed or neutered might be attacked by other cats in the colony. The reason for this is that the returned cat might still smell like the veterinary clinic, which can be unfamiliar and threatening to other cats. The smell usually wears off after a day or two, so don’t worry about this being a long-term issue.
It’s rare, but some spayed and neutered cats in a colony may continue to fight, giving in to instinctual territorial behaviors. If cats in your colony are still fighting after being spayed or neutered, provide multiple food and water bowls and outdoor shelters for them to use. Providing options for places to eat, sleep, or hide will make the cats less likely to duke it out over limited resources. Give the colony a few fun cat toys and sprinkle outdoor shelters with catnip—this will help if the cats are acting out because they’re bored.