It is always so surprising to me to hear from friends, to see with my own eyes and to be told by cat behavior specialists that….. male cats tend to get along better than female cats do with……. any gender. This post is all about female cats getting along with female cats and with other cats.
I have a male cat named Finnegan who is about eleven years old. I have had him since he was a kitten and when I adopted him he adopted into his sibling sister Abigail, who has since transitioned on.
The question that plagued me during Finn’s kitten-hood days was, ‘should I be adopting another kitten with him?’, and I regret to say, I wish I would have.
Finnegan, being a little boy kitten wanted to play with his new big, older sister Abigail but she did not want anything to do with him. Eventually she warmed up a bit, but never to the point of being a nurturing elder.
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I always felt so guilty and thought maybe I should have adopted a girl kitty cat.
Turns out, Abigail might not have warmed up to ANY other kitty as quickly and warm as I would have loved to see.
As I continued to research suggestions and techniques I could practice to help the integration, I kept stumbling onto articles about females clashing with each other. And while I did not have two females, I kept reading about female tolerance to other cats.
Ahhhhh…… Abigail; a sweet angel towards me, and other people but not so much towards other cats (and dogs as it turned out).
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Aggression Between Female Cats
So apparently aggression between female cats is enough of a ’thing’ that many cat behaviorists, cat lifestyle experts, veterinarians and cat rescues write on this specific topic.
Cornell University has a very good article on cat aggression and includes a summary of female specific challenges a cat owner might experience. Here is a summary listing their findings through experience, science and cat behavior.
|FEMALE CAT AGGRESSION||CAUSE||EFFECT|
|lack social interaction with other kitty cats||play aggression|
|new situations, unfamiliar activities||fear aggression|
|physical and mental unease||petting|
|outside territory anxiety||redirected|
|I am the boss here||social hierarchy|
|that’s mine, and I don’t share well||territorial|
|recently had kittens||maternal|
My cat Abigail fell into the first one. Lack of socialization with other cats as a baby kitten. Even though I adopted her young (it was estimated 6-8 months) she had been on the streets of Philadelphia wandering around alone. A kind person brought her to my vet clinic where she had been ’living’ among other strays. There was one challenge the vet had. Abigail was FIV positive and they wanted to keep her separated from other strays. These other strays could give her an illness her immune system was not capable of fighting off. So her experience with other cats was not great, and her experience with people early on was extraordinary. YEA for good people!!!
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Around that same time, I had already adopted a male FIV positive kitty cat (Madison) and he was estimated to be four years old. When I brought him in for his first check-up, they told me about Abigail. The second visit they came right out and asked if Madison might want a sister. I met this female cat and said, ’box her up’ and took her right on the spot. She was sooooo sweet and cute.
My personal experience was she adopted well into her brother Madison since he had already been with me. He established boundaries with Abigail and she respected them. They constantly fought for my attention, people attention and lap sitting, but they also bonded and were excellent companions when I was not home.
My experience after Madison passed on and I brought home Finnegan was completely different.
Abigail was over 10 years old by then and not so enthusiastic about having a kitten around.
I thought for sure maternal instincts would kick in and she would love being an older sister, but that was not really the case. They of course ended up being ’friendly’ and companions who lived under the same roof, but nothing like the brother sisterly love she had for Madison. Looking back, it seems to me, adopting TWO kittens (ideally from the same litter) would have been best. It would give the little ones more play buddies and take some of the burden off their older sister.
Abigail ended passing away of aggressive stomach cancer that (due to her FIV) she was not able to fight off, and the treatments would have prolonged intense suffering.
She was an amazing kitty and I am grateful I was able to enjoy over 11 years with her!
No regrets adopting Finnegan of course, but I would do things a smidge differently today given the same circumstance. It should also be noted, since Abigail never had a litter of kittens, there might not be any maternal instincts there to activate.
A few more things I want to mention about dear Abigail, the sweet angel with humans. She was very territorial towards other animals who go close to our home. She was an incredible mouser! She did not tolerate mice or bugs in her home…. at all. They didn’t stand a chance with Abigail the alpha cat.
Abigail the female alpha cat also hung out in my courtyard in Philadelphia and would growl (YES GROWL) at all the dogs walking by LOL!
Sometimes she would blow up like a blow fish and walk towards them and scare them poop-less. I once witnessed a pit bull cower and shiver to her, even with a rod iron gate between them and his owner by his side, clutching his leash.
She also snapped the neck of a small bird who got in her ’space’ (and then brought it to me as a special gift ;).
So my point is, all female cats are different. Some are territorial by ’nature’ and some are products of their early life. Some get along fabulously with other females. Some do not.
It just all depends.
Do Female Cats Mark Their Territory?
Both male and female cats can spray and yes one of the reasons is to mark their territory. It should be noted that cat spraying is different than a cat urinating.
My experience is male cats can spray more than females but this is not always the case, so again it differs. Since Madison (my previous male cat) was the one adopted first, he initially went into a spraying frenzy when he met Abigail. Thank goodness he had the good manners to take his temper tantrum into the guest bedroom shower.
I have said it before on this blog, I have excellent results using Rocco and Roxie Stain and Odor Eliminator. I have tried a few different brands and this is my favorite.
Among top contenders are Angry Orange and Nature’s Miracle.
You can read more about removing pet urine and stains (and even vomit) at How To Use Odor And Pet Stain Remover.
Do Female Cats Get Their Periods?
Yes, the certainly do and it is called ’in heat’. A female cat who is reaching puberty can start going into heat as young as 4 months old. If she does not mate, the heat can last as long as 3 weeks. If she is not spayed or mated, she will continue going into heat every several weeks.
I urge you to have your female kitty cat spayed as soon as you can. Your vet will be able to let you know when he can do the procedure. It does take time to recover after the procedure. If funds for getting your cat spayed are a challenge, check with the organization you adopted your cat from. They should be able to help you get her spayed free of charge.
If you found your cat on the street, still check with a rescue. Many rescues will guide you as to organizations that can help you get her spayed.
If you give your female cat a cozy place to enjoy peace during her recovery, she will appreciate it for sure.
We recently updated our post titled ”How To Make A Chill Area For Your Cat: Reduce Stress And Anxiety”that should give you some helpful tips.
By nature, cats love to cozy up in enclosed areas that are not in the line of foot traffic. When your female cat is recovering from surgery, this special zen zone will be really important. She will just want to relax, have lots of attention and some special snacks with her.
A female cat’s recovery time after being spayed will also be expedited if she isn’t tempted to jump, run or stretch for any reason.
To summarize, female cats can exert aggression between each other. There are many ways to avoid having a home with female cats that do not get along including adopting cats that are already known to be friendly companions, adopting kittens from the same litter and getting a cat behaviorist to help mitigate. I did the latter and it worked very well. I also learned a lot about cat behavior as I worked with a professional.
Now to you…… are you faced with challenges between cats right now that have you stressed too? Are there additional topics we can cover that could help?
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