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Why Does My Cat Fight Himself? (Viscous Mistake?)

If your cat appears to be fighting himself you may be wondering why this has happened and if you should be worried about it…

Why does my cat fight himself?

You may find your cat kicking itself in the face to be hilarious, but this is a reaction due to a defense instinct. When a cat curls inward at the right angle, it triggers a maneuver meant to claw large prey that your cat would be trying to subdue or kill.

So, now you know. But, can cats really self-harm? How can you prevent this from happening? What is a cat fighting reflex? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Can cats self-harm?

Cat looking crazy with mouth open.

Cat looking crazy with mouth open.

Cats are entirely capable of self-harm by scratching at their face and neck too often or too roughly. This behavior could be attributed to a few different causes: Habitual, mites or fleas, or allergies. 

A habit of scratching could have developed by your cat scratching at an itch and just never stopping. The only way around this one is to discipline and training your cat to stop scratching. You might try a cone or something if you have to go to drastic measures.

Flea infestations

Your cat could be infested with fleas, so have a veterinarian take a look. You might also want to have your pet checked for ear mites if nothing is found on the outside. Better to be thorough than let your cat have an itch that it literally can’t scratch. 

If your cat persists with self-harm, it could be due to an allergic reaction to something. The best way to deal with this would be to remove common allergens from your property and switch your cat to allergy-free food. If that isn’t enough, you might look into giving your cat’s immune system a boost with steroids.

How can you prevent your cat from fighting himself?

Why does my cat fight himself?

A cat playing on its own.

The best way to avoid your cat fighting himself or you is to strictly use positive play methods and never encourage aggression. Something to understand is that kicking is a survival instinct for a cat so that behavior isn’t going anywhere.

However, you can adjust where that fighting goes. Avoid using your hand to play and, if you do, make sure to stop playing if things become aggressive. Let your cat know that you’re not prey. You might also want to provide your cat with a stuffed animal or something on a string to track.

Being able to hunt and “kill” a small animal will help work out some of your cat’s instinctive habits.

Why do cats fight?

As humorous as it may sound, cats often fight due to jealousy, hormones, and territoriality. Cats are very close with their owners, so new cats will often be a target of jealousy. Find ways to let your other cats know you still love them.

This might mean playing with them individually now and then or getting out their favorite toy from time to time. Territoriality has a similar fix, by designating specific areas for each cat or letting them adjust to a shared space in small doses.

Hormones are a different animal altogether, especially in male cats. The quickest way to help this issue, though, is to get your cat spayed or neutered. While your cat may be naturally territorial, the majority will stop fighting over space.

Do male cats fight more than female cats?

Male cats engage in fights more often than females as a sign of dominance, whether over younger males, territory or to impress a potential mate. This is not to say that female cats don’t fight, but there is a lot more prideful aggression between the males.

You might notice a rise in male aggression between two cats that weren’t there before. This could be because male cats aren’t concerned with male kittens until they hit the age between 2 and 6. After all, this is when the older cat has to establish dominance.

How should you stop a catfight?

The best ways to stop a catfight are with water or loud sound. You should never step in to physically attempt to separate your cats because they will deem you another threat and redirect their aggression toward you.

Squirt guns are a great choice for this reason because they allow you to be at a distance. If you don’t have water handy, most loud noises will break up a catfight by startling them out of their aggression.

What is a cat’s fighting reflex?

As mentioned earlier, a cat’s fighting instinct is either to pounce on small prey or, against larger prey, to lay on its back, pull its prey in, and repeatedly kick at it with claws. This can be a lethal attack, whether by killing the prey outright or maiming it to render it defenseless.

If you’ll notice, your cat will pounce if you move your toes or fingers under the covers because these are small prey. However, if you’re playing with your cat with your arm then your cat might instinctively grip your arm and begin to kick.

It’s not because your cat wants to hurt you, but make sure that you don’t engage in this behavior because it can promote aggressive playing.

Why does my cat kick himself with his back legs?

The instinct to kick with their back legs can be triggered by how a cat curls their head down. This is due to how they fight in the wild when attacked, where the goal is to end the assault quickly by death or disembowelment.

When playing with your cat, he or she might grab your hand and begin to kick at it. If this happens, make sure to stop playing and let your cat know that this behavior isn’t acceptable to you.

Why do cats attack their own feet?

Cats love to attack feet, be it yours or theirs. With yours, they either want something or it’s a sign of aggression, and with theirs, it’s to counteract their triggered instinct.

If your cat attacks your feet, most of the time it’s because they want to play and your feet moving attracts their playful side. This is especially true with slippers or some shoes, because your cat may think the thing on your foot resembles prey that needs to be hunted. 

They may also be hungry…

Your cat may also be hungry, but the one to watch out for is aggression. If your cat growls or actually attacks your foot with the intent to cause harm, you might want to take your cat to an animal trainer or therapist. This behavior could be dangerous for you and it.

Lastly, your cat attacks its feet because it doesn’t enjoy kicking itself in the face. By biting its foot, it can trigger a nerve response that will shut off whatever instinct causes it to kick.

Why do cats fight their own reflection?

If your cat scratches at a mirror, it either thinks that there’s another cat in its home or finds the glass relaxing on its claws. The latter will become irritating, but there’s no concern for your cat or the mirror.

As mentioned earlier, cats can be very territorial when it comes to other cats in their home. All cats are very partial to their owners and attack to defend their home, but male cats especially can become hostile toward their reflection.

There really isn’t much you as the owner can do to prevent or stop this behavior. Eventually, your lovable furball will realize the mistake and stop reacting to their reflection altogether. Some cats can take a lot longer than others to figure out that the cat in the mirror isn’t an imposter, though.

Lindsey Browlingdon