“Umm…a little help here?”

Many people who love cats enough to have one as a pet often love them enough to want multiple felines. However, due to their highly individualized identities cats aren’t always in the mood to share their living space, and in short order they’ll go about establishing a hierarchy with their furry little housemates, often by determining physical and psychological dominance.

That’s the situation Japanese manga artist and Twitter user Mizuki Setoguchi has found herself in, so she’s been reading up on ways to help he pets get along, but she wasn’t quite sure about the advice she’d found when she came across her cats grappling like this.

Along with the photos, Setoguchi tweeted:

“The book I read said ‘Owners shouldn’t stop their cats when they’re fighting, because it’s an important time in which they establish their power-based relationships. But what am I supposed to do when one of them is (seemingly) saying ‘Seriously?! If you’ve got time to take the picture then get this guy off of me!’?”

Responses to the tweet included fellow cat owners saying they’d step in to stop the fight. Others, though, brushed it off as just some roughhouse play between the two cats, a claim that seems somewhat believable given the bored expression on the face of the headlocked white cat in this photo.

Still, if your cats are really going at it, should you send them off to neutral corners? Opinions are somewhat divided, although the America Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, among others, insists that you should “never let the cats ‘fight it out.’”

What does seem to be unanimous, though, is that personally separating the cats with your own hands is a bad idea. Not only is it a quick way to earn yourself some easy scratches, the animals may interpret it as showing favoritism for one or the other, thus knocking the hierarchy they’re naturally trying to establish out of balance.

Employing some sort of distraction is a commonly suggested technique. A surreptitious squirt gun strike, clapping your hands from a hidden position, or tossing a cushion so that it lands near their scuffle can all provide a monetary loss of aggressive focus that will cause the fight’s momentum to dissipate.

In other words, it’s probably best to leave the “let them fight” mentality for the next Godzilla movie.

Sources: Togech, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Planet, Ask the Cat Doctor, About.com, Twitter/@setoguchimizuki