If you have more than one cat, you know that they sometimes slap each other, prompting the offended party to slap back or chase the problem-maker. Whether they are doing it for fun or out of anger, slapping is common for cats. But why do they slap each other?
Cats slap each other because they want to play or establish dominance over the other cat(s). Another reason is a cat might be sick or want attention. They might also be playing and want to engage the other cat in a chase game. Interfere only when it seems that your cats might hurt each other.
Cats express themselves with their paws, and slapping is a natural expressive reaction. If you want to learn more about your cats’ slapping behaviors, keep reading.
They Are Establishing Dominance
As with all animals, cats want to dominate over other cats to show that they are stronger and better, so they do that by slapping other cats. When taken to the extreme, this aggression can create situations where cats get injured. Slapping shows other cats that they are the boss and exert their control when needed.
Cats will also slap their human companions when they feel threatened or when they want to fight for dominance. A human might upset their cat a little too much, prompting the cat to lash out, either with or without claws. They don’t always use their claws when slapping other cats or humans, as their slaps are a warning mechanism.
If you notice your cats fighting, with one slapping the other one, you don’t want to interfere, as you could get hurt physically. Instead, try clapping your hands to distract them long enough so they go their separate ways, or throw a towel between them, which can be distracting as well.
Slapping Is a Playing Mechanism
Cats use slapping for several reasons, including play. Energetic animals play roughly sometimes to diffuse that energy, and slapping is one way that they play. If you’ve ever watched cats playing, you’ve seen them slap each other without claws, then chase each other. When they play, they usually don’t use claws.
They display some signs that will tell you whether or not your cats are playing.
- When cats play, they don’t make a lot of sounds.
- They take turns to be the aggressor.
- When fighting, cats bite each other and use claws when they slap each other.
- Playing cats show happiness through their body language, such as ears forward, calm tails, and calm fur.
Your cat might slap you once in a while because it wants to play with you and get some attention. When this happens, you might want to take some time and play with your cat. Find a favorite toy and play with them, such as a laser pointer, a ribbon, or a plastic toy spring. It might be that your cat is bored and is trying to stir up trouble.
A Cat Might Be Sick and Lashes Out
Sometimes, your cat will lash out because you touched a sore spot or an infected area, and it is warning you to back off before it scratches or bites you. Your cat might have dental pain, and if you pet the side of its mouth, it will slap your hand as a warning sign. If your cat usually likes its belly rubbed, and it slaps your hand away when you are rubbing its belly, it could be a sign that there is pain or an infection.
As what happens in multi-cat households, your cat might have gotten into a fight, and another cat hurt your cat. When you try touching that spot, your cat will likely hit you because it hurts, and they are warning you to back off.
If you think your cat has an infection or a sore spot, you might want to call your vet to make sure that it’s not anything to worry about. Your vet can determine whether your cat has an infection or not.
Your cat might also lash out at you because it got into a fight with a neighborhood cat and is still angry at the world. Give it some time to cool down, then try giving it attention later.
They Are Angry With Each Other
Sometimes, cats fight and become very angry with each other. The slapping becomes an expression of that anger, either with or without claws. If your cats are fighting with claws, you might consider interfering before one or the other gets hurt. If they are fighting without claws, there isn’t a need to interfere.
How can you tell if cats are angry with each other or playing? Look at their body language, as they will display the following signs:
- Their ears are back and flat, which signifies a fighting stance.
- One of them, or both, is howling and hissing.
- They are biting each other.
- Claws accompany the slapping.
- If they chase each other, they may do so with their back fur raised and their tails double their normal size.
Why do cats get angry with each other? In some instances, there are not enough resources such as food or water bowls, litter boxes, or beds, and cats will fight over these items. Another reason is that they might be hungry, and their humans haven’t gotten up yet to feed them. If you take care of these issues, cats usually can get along.
They Are Seeking Attention
Whether they want attention from you or other cats, cats slap each other to get attention. They might want playtime, or they might be seeking cuddles and petting. A cat will playfully bat at another cat to entice play and fun, but if the other cat doesn’t want to be bothered, a fight will ensue, and you have a battle on your hands.
To stop your cats from fighting, try distracting the offending cat with a favorite toy or a laser pointer. Your cat will suddenly forget about trying to get attention and play with you rather than bother your other cat.
When your cats are not bored, they won’t need to start things with another cat through slapping. Provide your feline buddies with things to do, and they will not need to get attention.
When Should You Interfere?
Cats slapping each other is nothing to worry about if they aren’t displaying signs of fighting or extremely rough play. When they are out to hurt each other in an angry fight, the issue is characterized by jumping on each other and biting while slapping with their claws out. If you’ve noticed your cats fighting like this, you’ll want to break it up somehow.
Without getting physically in the middle of the catfight, try to distract them by clapping your hands or throwing a dish towel between them. That will give you enough time to separate them into different rooms while they cool off. In the meantime, provide enough resources and toys so your cats won’t have any excuse to fight with each other.
Slaps are normal behavior for cats, as this is how they express themselves.
- Is your cat anxious? It slaps you or another cat.
- Is your cat angry? It slaps other cats with its claws out.
- Is your cat bored? It slaps to incite a shaving game.
The point is that cats slapping each other are as normal to them as speaking is to humans.
Unless your cats are ready to tear each other apart, there’s nothing to worry about. Let them play and have fun once in a while.