How severe a scratch is normal when two cats who live together fight?
April 3, 2012 8:29 AM   Subscribe

How severe a scratch is normal when two cats who live together fight?

This may seen like a minor issue, but I'm trying to figure out whether an injury on one of my cats came from my other cat or maybe from an outside predator.

The big white cat has a large gash behind an ear--there's blood in his surrounding fur and the area is too sensitive for him to allow me to poke around.

Is this something that a cat playmate would typically inflict, or should I suspect he got into a more serious fight with an animal outside the house?
posted by Jon44 to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My two cats were sisters and fought daily. They never drew blood (on each other.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:31 AM on April 3, 2012

My eldest routinely used to get those, and I finally figured out she was doing it to herself because her ears were itchy and that hind-leg kick-scratching thing is not terribly precise. So, could go a couple of ways, for sure.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:32 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could be either. Accidents happen when roughousing. I'd be a little more attentive about the yard and area around your house - just to be sure you don't have some new critter neighbors. But I'd put money on it being from roughhousing.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:43 AM on April 3, 2012

Rather than look at individual scratches, you need to look at patterns of behavior over time. One scratch is nothing (that said, check for infection). Two cats that won't even be in the same room with each other and hiss at every available opportunity and they're getting constantly scratched every day is something else entirely.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:07 AM on April 3, 2012

Cat *playmates* play. Our two cats have "cat wars" regularly -- they chase each other around the house, and wrestle. But they don't even put their claws out, let alone draw blood.
posted by kestrel251 at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2012

Two cats here. Mine run around and wrestle too, and even though one of them is much bigger than the other, he doesn't cross certain lines when they fight (meaning I've never seen claws come out).

If you suspect your cat has gotten injured by an animal outside, you should take it to the vet for feline leukemia/ HIV tests, especially if there's the possibility of blood transmission.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2012

I have noticed that my two cats love to rub their faces on the corner of my coffee table, which has metal legs. Apparently there's a sharp point there somewhere because they will wind up with a little scratch (both in the same places on their face) and I figured it out when Toby was fine one minute then rubbed the table and had a scratch on his face. may want to look around and see if the kitty injured himself trying to get under a fence or some other object outside.

My cats play, and has occasionally scratched each others ears but it's always a very light, surface scratch. I'd keep an eye on the wound to make sure it doesn't get infected, and watch how the kitties play. Chances are, if it came from his kitty friend it was an accident where things got rougher than usual. It could also be from another animal, but that would be hard to know for sure.
posted by MultiFaceted at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2012

My household includes three 2.5-year-old ex-feral littermates and one older (she'll be 11 this year) Siamese who lived with my parents until she was 8. The younger ones will all occasionally scrap with a sibling, and while mainly this consists of noise, chasing, and wrestling, the vast majority of the time all parties emerge without a mark on them.

VERY occasionally someone will get a bit over-enthusiastic and I might find a teensy little scratch behind someone's ear while brushing them, etc. But none of my youngsters have ever managed to injure one another as severely as it sounds like your cat has been hurt.

The only one of my kitties that has sustained a serious fight-wound is Nikki (the elder girl), and she definitely got that from something outdoors. As a result, she hasn't been outdoors (aside from on a leash and harness) since.

I don't know what got hold of her but I am guessing a raccoon or possibly a dog, due to the depth of the bite marks. As near as I can tell, something had grabbed her and sunk its teeth into the area just above her upper thigh. The bites were so deep that the vet said she was very lucky not to have an abdominal perforation (which could have led to sepsis). She is fine now but things were pretty scary for a while as the wound had closed over and turned into a nasty abscess before I even realized what had happened.

…so basically, my point in relating all this is that it's probably a safe assumption what whatever hurt your cat was NOT another cat, and that you probably ought to get whatever tests and procedures done that would be merited in that case.
posted by aecorwin at 11:13 AM on April 3, 2012

My cats draw blood from each other (and the dog) occasionally. Not a big deal, unless it happens frequently or results in serious blood loss.

(The only time I've ever really been concerned is when I found a blood trail on the floor, covering 2 full rooms. I never found out whose blood it was, though, and it never happened again.)
posted by coolguymichael at 12:33 PM on April 3, 2012

Interesting the range of experience. That some people, at least, have cats that draw blood make me think my other cat is the guilty party. In contrast to other cats I've know, she doesn't seem to have any compunctions about breaking my skin with her claws either. Both cats have been experiencing spring fever and fighting more aggressively than normal, as well.

posted by Jon44 at 3:42 PM on April 3, 2012

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