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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Clark

Deciphering Feline Behavior: Understanding If Cats Are Playing or Fighting


It’s July and super-hot so that means I have spent a lot of time inside watching my cat… As a devoted cat lover, I understand that interpreting our cats behavior is essential for ensuring their well-being and maintaining a peaceful home environment. One concern for my roommate and I (having 2 cats) is distinguishing between play and potential conflicts. Today, we'll delve into the subtle cues that will help you determine whether your cats are engaging in playful antics or if there might be underlying tension between them.


Reading Their Body Language


Cats are masters at expressing themselves through non-verbal cues. Understanding their body language is key to uncovering their intentions:

  • Sounds of Play: During play, cats typically avoid aggressive vocalizations. Instead, you may hear soft meows or silence as they chase and interact with each other in a gentle manner.

  • Claws: In or Out: Playful cats often keep their claws retracted, minimizing the risk of harm to their playmates. Extended claws used to cause injury could indicate a more serious conflict.

  • Turn-Taking: In playful interactions, cats tend to share equal time as the chaser and the chased. Reciprocal behavior indicates a friendly dynamic.

  • Post-Play Behavior: After playtime, cats should remain relaxed and friendly toward each other. Grooming each other is a positive sign, reinforcing their bond.


Observing Their Daily Interactions


To gain a better understanding of your cat's relationship, observe their daily interactions and behavior:

  • Positive Social Behaviors: Cats that get along often engage in activities like sleeping and cuddling together, mutual grooming, and gently rubbing against each other. These actions indicate a harmonious bond.

  • Resource Sharing: Sharing food bowls or resting on the same bed might not necessarily indicate friendship, but it shows a level of comfort and acceptance within their social circle.

  • Signs of Tension: Negative behaviors such as hissing, swiping, or blocking access to resources may suggest underlying tension and potential conflicts.


Recognizing the Dynamics of Play and Conflict


It's essential to recognize that play and fighting can sometimes appear quite similar. Here are additional factors to consider:

  • Intensity and Tension: Playful interactions are usually loose, bouncy, and less intense than aggressive fights.

  • Vocalization: Playtime usually doesn't involve aggressive vocalizations like hissing, growling, or yowling, which is more common during conflicts.

  • Age and Temperament: Pairing cats with similar activity levels and play drives can contribute to a positive relationship. Young kittens from the same litter often make excellent playmates due to their matching energy levels.


In conclusion, I have realized after all the research for this blog has been presented in front of me, my roommate's cat (Swayze) and Obie do not have a friendship but an understanding that they must live with each other and will play/ fight when needed. Just as in life, we have to deal with people who aren’t always our favorite or we wouldn’t describe them as a friend more of someone we deal with. Remember, each cat is unique, and their relationships may evolve over time. You can cultivate

strong and positive connections among your feline friends by providing a loving and enriching environment. Until next month when Obie and Swayze bring me further inspiration into the life of cats.


- V 🐈

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