Cat Fight! This was not a game
Last night my cats got into a nasty fight but the only one who got scratched was me. Muffin (younger, timid of the two) was sleeping on my computer console when she slipped off and was clawing at it to pull herself back up. I reached down and grabbed her to lift her back up onto it and suddenly she was hissing and clawing and my older cat Dustin was hissing and clawing trying to get to her. I lifted her up high and tried to hold an soath her but the stripe on the back of both cats neck was up and I knew these were serious hissing and maybe some spitting (it all happened kinda fast). Muffin ran downstairs and I managed to chase Dustin into my bedroom and shut him in there for the night. I went downstairs to see if Muffin was ok and she didn't seem concerned about me but kept watching to see if Dustin was coming downstairs.
I figured I'd let them sleep on it and things would be better this morning but it seemed like they were gonna start again. I brought Dustin downstairs to feed them and they started to stare at each other and Dustin became agitated wanting to go after her (which I diffused by putting food in his dish). He kinda circled his food and then sat and ate. I had to put her food on the floor and she ate a bit but kept watching him like a hawk. I think Dustin was set off because of how intently she was staring at him when we came downstairs. She started to crouch down more and more as the intensity of their stare increased. They still weren't really comfortable after eating. I grabbed a can of compressed air, the type you use to blow dust off your computer, and if their stares seemed to go on too long or seem fixated then I'd give a lil blow (Dustin hates the sound). He did seem like he was approaching her but then I realized he saw her food on the carpet and slowly moved past her to eat it.
I have her in my bedroom now but I'm wondering how long do I have to watch them for a fight? I don't want to make the situation worse by being over-protective and I feel I should be around when they are together for a bit, just to shake a can of coins or blow a can of air. Does anyone have any idea if there is anything I can do to help them be comfortable with each other or how long this weird thing between them might last? I'm also curious if anyone has any thoughts on why this happened. I think what happened was that Muffin was half-asleep when she fell off the computer, she fell off her kitty tower once, and she got scared especially when I tried to help her get up. Dustin was either responding to her fear and trying to... calm her down?, chase her off? (but then I'm thinking of dogs correcting one another) or he was trying to protect me? (do cats do that kinda thing?). He is definitely closer to me, sleeps close by me and gets annoyed if I'm in a room with the door shut.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! I have no problem jumping in to diffuse a situation but my mom will only add panic to it. Also is the can of coins/can of air to startle them and distract them a good way to break a mood? What about water bottle? I want to snap them out of it not add fuel to the fire.