How do I know if my cats are playing… or fighting?

You are the happy owner of several cats but, despite a good general cohabitation, you sometimes have trouble knowing when your hairballs are playing and when they are arguing… Here is how to tell the difference between these two behaviors!

Signs your cats are fighting

When cats fight, certain parts of their body emit signals that are easy to decipher:

  • Their ears are completely folded back, almost glued to their head.
  • Their pupils are very dilated.
  • The whites of their eyes are particularly visible.
  • Their tail is spiky, allowing them to appear more imposing.
  • Their tail wags rapidly.
  • They howl very loudly.
  • Their claws are out.
  • They stand sideways instead of facing each other.
  • Their eyes are on their opponent.
  • Their body is tense, almost motionless.
  • They are never fully seated or lying on the ground, but may be slightly crouched or even low to the ground.
  • Nothing can distract them, not even your voice.

Note that it is rather rare that cats who have lived together for years and who get along well start fighting. Indeed, it is generally cats who do not know each other who fight.

Signs your cats are playing

When cats play, several things can also tell you their state of mind:

  • Their ears point forward, toward the other cat, or to the side.
  • They are easily distracted, especially if you call them.
  • Their pupils are dilated, but not as much as when fighting.
  • The whites of their eyes are not visible.
  • They don’t make noise.
  • Their eyes are not fixed on the other cat, but can observe the surrounding environment.
  • Their claws are drawn in.
  • They change position frequently.
  • They pause to lick each other.

If you have a kitten and an older cat, it is normal for the latter to put the smaller one in its place. Indeed, kittens sometimes like to play so much that they have the gift of annoying other cats. Thus, adults teach them to curb their enthusiasm by giving them a little lesson from time to time.

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