Cats will be cats—and we know some felines are quick to put another cat in their place. We don’t usually see this happen with dogs, but cats are a tad more finicky and far more territorial. Sometimes, it amuses us when we see this happen, but other times it can signal an alarm in our minds as we worry that our cats might break out into a dangerous cat fight.
If you’ve ever wondered to yourself, “why do cats slap each other?”—just keep reading, because I have the answer for you!
Cats slap each other sometimes as an invitation to play
While we humans wouldn’t walk up and slap one of our mates when we’re feeling playful, we must remember that cats have far different ways of communicating with their own species. Sometimes when cats slap each other, this can indicate to the other cat that they’re ready to play. Think of it as a play invitation if you will. If you happen to watch videos of big cats in the wild, you can observe this behavior with lions and tigers, too. (One of the many traits your house panther shares with their big cat cousins!)
These cutesy versions of cat slaps are usually amusing to watch and not intended to mean any harm. It’s a fun way for our cats to engage in play with one another, and that play is great for mental stimulation, as well as daily exercise!
At times, cats slap each other to exert dominance
We obviously know that some cats are far more territorial than other cats. Super territorial kitties can be ferals that were later domesticated, a cat that has experienced abuse, or a cat that was neutered/spayed after they’d reached sexual maturity. These are just examples in which it’s more likely that a cat will be highly territorial, but since cats are individuals by nature, any cat possesses the ability to be this way. Should a kitty be more territorial, they will be quick to show off their dominance and not take any crap from another cat. This is exactly why you might see a cat slap another cat, often accompanied by that classic grumbling growl that felines will exhibit. Fear aggression in cats is fairly common, you can learn more about that here.
Cats slap each other because one cat might feel their social rank is threatened
It is very likely that a resident feline will slap another cat should they be recently adopted into their home. Cats feel threatened easily as they are both a prey and predator species, therefore, social rank is of utmost importance to them. Bonding is a very important thing to cats, and if you’ve yet to see your two cats allogrooming or sleeping together, then they have yet to establish a strong bond with one another. Remember, patience is key in life—and this is especially true when it comes to cats. Don’t force things, or those slaps could turn into something far worse—like a nasty cat fight.
Remember, despite all those hisses cats are famous for, cats are actually proactive about avoiding conflict. They will often go to great lengths to avoid a cat fight, but if they sense an immediate threat this is a different story. A cat quickly slapping another cat might be their way of saying that they are the boss of this domain. This is done with an abrupt slap so that both cats know that the cat on the defense is not in the mood to play any games. Closely watch your cats’ behavior when this happens, and be prepared to separate the two should the other cat be looking for a fight. It’s important to be able to understand the difference between cats playing and cats fighting, learn all about that here.
Does your kitty seem quick to lash out? This could be a sign that they are in pain
Whenever we are not feeling well, we are quick to react in a defensive manner. The same goes for our cats, too. If a cat is in pain, they will guard their injury and are quick to protect themselves from making matters worse. Cats are stoic beings and naturally afraid of showing signs of weakness., A cat might slap another cat if it is in pain and does not want to engage in physical contact with another cat/person. This could also be why your cat quickly slaps you if you try to pick them up or pet them. If your kitty is usually sweet and suddenly they’ve taken a liking to slapping other pets or people in your home, it’s time to take them to the vet to have their health assessed. For more signs that your cat is in pain, check out this article here.