How to Tell if Your Cats Are Playing or Fighting


We humans don’t tend to tackle our friends very often in the modern world. But in the animal kingdom, this is a common way to bond and pass the time, especially while growing up.

But sometimes things get hostile and those subtle taps turn into rage-filled scratches, and the playful nibbles look more like dangerous bites. So how do you tell the difference? Fortunately, there are a few clues that you can look for…

Playing VS Fighting

  • During play, cats will usually switch off roles between offensive and defensive. During fights, there are no roles, just a mad flurry of claws until someone quits.
  • Cats won’t get hurt during play (unless by accident – perhaps if they knock something over). But if you notice any severe scratches or bite wounds, things are probably getting heated.
  • When cats are fighting, there will be more hisses. They might hiss once or twice during play, but if you’re hearing an orchestra of angry felines, it may be time to intervene.
  • Typically, there won’t be any yowling or screaming during playtime.
  • When playing is over, your cats should act normal and friendly toward each other. If a fight just broke out, your kitties will probably avoid each other, or at least one will stay away from the other.


If you have cats that don’t normally get along well and they seem to be playing/fighting, consider distracting them with a positive noise – like using the can opener or shaking the treat bag. Keep it positive though. You don’t want to discourage a friendship that may be blossoming.

(Most of these will be useful clues for your playful dogs as well.)

Do you know someone with kitties at home?

Be a friend and pass this on!

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