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Feline Fighting

A great deal of squabbling and fighting occurs, especially between urban cats. Sometimes it's territorial, but as often as not it's between rival tom-cats. On occasions they will even die from their battle injuries. This should not be a surprise to us really, as a cats primary objective is to deliver a fatal neck-bite, as employed when killing prey. Because its opponent is the same size and strength it seldom achieves this.

When a dominant cat spots its rival it will adopt the 'threat posture' by fully stretching its legs to appear taller than usual, erecting the hairs along its back, with tail erect and bristling and the backs of his ears showing. With a great deal of growling and howling it will slowly advance, watching for any sudden reaction from his enemy. As it gets closer it will perform a strange head-twisting action, raising its head up slightly and then tilting it over to one side, staring intently at the enemy all the time. Then taking a step forward, will tilt its head the other way, repeating this several times.

When two cats of equal status meet in a threatening manner, a period of deadlock may follow, with each cat performing the same slow and hostile approach. Throughout this they will continue to howl and moan until they become frozen in a prolonged stalemate which could last for many minutes. Eventually they may separate from each other if neither side will capitulate. This is also done in slow motion, as for one cat to increase speed would admit to being weak and would lead to an instantaneous attack from the other.

Should a fight occur, the action begins with one cat lunging at the others neck, the opponent will twist round to defend itself with its jaws, while at the same time striking with the front feet, clinging on with its forepaws and kicking with its powerful rear feet. The rivals will quickly pull apart to resume the threat display once more, repeating the assault several times before one of them gives up and remains lying on the floor with ears fully flattened. The victor will then turn at right angles to the loser and with great concentration, sniff the ground. This is a regular feature of all fights, and is a victory signal to the loser that its submission is accepted and the battle is over.

Not all fights are as intense or ritualistic, and some disputes are settled by a sort of boxing match using the front paws with claws extended, to swipe at each others head. 

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