How to Tell if Your Cats are Playing or Fighting

You might have heard a cat-owner asking for suggestions as to “why my cats fight all the time”. Have you ever thought about what it means? Do cats really fight with other fellow feline members in the house and their owners, or are they just playing?

It turns out; cats instinctively indulge in certain behavioral patterns. If one does not know otherwise, one might perceive them inaccurately and think that a cat is fighting, when in reality, it is not at all. For a non-cat owner, growling and screaming in the middle of the night might sound like a major catfight, and they would confuse similar gestures seeing two house cats indulge in playtime.

How to Tell if Your Cats are Playing or Fighting

To put it simply, what seemingly looks like a fight is actually play fighting, which is quite common amongst cats, especially littermates. Therefore, in a multi-cat household or even as a single cat parent, peace is maintained, and everybody gets along.

How to Tell If Your Cats Are Playing or Fighting

To ensure that your cat is participating in harmless playtime or showing love through aggressive gestures that need to be tamed down, here are some ways you can tell if your cats are playing or fighting.

  • Pay close attention to the cat’s body language.
  • If you can hear screaming and growling, it’s a fight.
  • Observe and understand your cat’s nature outside of playtime.
  • See if your catsare taking turns in games.
  • Handle your cat’s play-biting and scratching gestures.

Now let’s have a look at these signs in detail.

Read Their Body Language

It is crucial to pay close attention to your cat’s body language because it can tell you a lot about if they are in the mood to play or irritable. As both playing and fighting have similar gestures and actions, it becomes difficult to determine what actually is happening. Close attention to body language, like when your cat jumps on its playmate, chasing things around, or wagging its tail, is seemingly harmless. However, irritable behavior where the cat uses its paw to push off the playmate hisses at you puffs up its fur or flattens its ears, then the cat is surely fighting and angry and should not be mistaken for playing.


Vocalization is often a clear indicator of a cat fighting than not because of the pitch and tone it may use. For instance, many cats are very vocal and answer their owners by softly purring, meowing softly, or even loudly. However, high-pitched screaming, growling, and hissing are clear signs that your cat is not in the mood and may attack if provoked. Moreover, on the flip side, silence is also not clearly indicative of playtime or fight. Sometimes cats go eerily quiet when they are angry with a fellow cat and may attack unknowingly, and you’ll have the fight to break up.


You must observe and understand your cat’s nature outside of playtime to understand how your pet is. Much like their owners, pet animals like cats tend to have an individual personality. This should indicate how you need to tame them or train them, if needed, to behave around other fellow pet cats and cat owners to avoid any fight. Moreover, if you have a shy or scared cat, it is better to keep them away from any new company as an unprecedented outburst.

Taking Turns

Especially in a multi-cat household, the owner needs to keep an eye on their pets because playtime can turn into a fight naturally. However, the best way to make sure that it is all fun and games is to see if your cats are taking turns jumping on each other, chasing each other around, or even wrestling turn by turn. If you tend to notice such actions during play, it is highly probable that your cats are having a healthy fun time and there is nothing to be concerned about than just keeping an eye on them nonetheless.

Play-Biting and Scratching

Play-biting, scratching, and other types of such aggression shown by cats are often misinterpreted by cat-owners. However, it is not only common but often requires a bit of taming by the owner.  This is because younger cats and kittens if not tamed when indulging in aggressive gestures such as play-biting might end up hurting a person or cat without intending to. While the owner knows their pet the best, it is obvious that they know how hard their cat bites and take it in a harmless, fun way. However, when the same cat may attack another playmate, their lack of awareness may get them hurt.

Our Final Thoughts

Now that you know all the signs indicating how to tell if your cats are playing or fighting, it may help you form an even stronger bond with your cat. The idea is to treat your cat as an individual with its own mood and behavioral patterns to bring out the best in them.

Naturally, owners that do not indulge a cat’s aggressive behavior and give equal attention to all the cats they may own and are soft towards them make the best cat parents to some of the happiest kitties you’ll ever see.

About The Author