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Is Your Cat a Bully?

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Is Your Cat a Bully?

America’s schools are all abuzz with bully abatement, but did you know that cats can be bullies too?  Here are the red flag warnings that your sweet little kitty is really a big bully to the other cats in your household or neighborhood.

1. Staring

2. Pouncing on another cat while that cat is sleeping or resting

3. Blocking thoroughfares such as in the middle of a hallway or in front of the cat flap to deny exit or entry

4. Attacking, growling and hissing at another cat without apparent provocation

5. Blocking access to indoor litter box

6. Forcing another cat away from food bowl

7. Claiming resting areas and/or access to human by physically pushing other cat away











Cats are territorial by nature and in territories where there is more than one cat (indoors and out) a hierarchy is likely to develop. The biggest cat often, but not always, will dominate the top rung of the ladder. If you do observe the above listed behaviors in one or more of your cats, and it lasts for more than a couple of weeks, then you likely need to intervene.

The first step is to assess whether your dominate cat (the one being the bully) is getting the respect he/she deserves.  This situation happened in our household. Sushi, our Maine Coon, who weighs about 24 pounds is the undisputed top cat in the household. However, he is not the family favorite as he doesn’t like to cuddle and he is quick to use his claws. The family favorite is Mittens, our skinny little polydactyl cat that has an amazing personality, loves to cuddle, and is light enough for the children to pick-up (which he completely tolerates). Riki Tiki Tabby is also well-loved, but since he doesn’t like to sit on laps or be held, he takes second place to Mittens. The result is everyone in our household greets Mittens first, plays with him first, rubs his belly first and gives him lots of treats. It got to the point where Sushi was almost being ignored.  I guess Sushi said to himself, enough is enough, because suddenly one day, he started  attacking Mittens quite aggressively. I was actually shocked as it seemed to come out of nowhere.

This went on for a few weeks and it was causing our household significant strife. Mittens was a nervous wreck and developed chin acne ( a sure sign of stress). My husband was finally astute enough to suggest  that maybe Sushi was jealous and that he (Sushi) felt he was not getting the respect he deserved as top cat. So, we started greeting Sushi first when we came home, giving him lots of chin rubs, and making sure he was the first to get a treat, the first to get brushed and the first to be fed. Like magic, Sushi suddenly stopped bothering Mittens!

Other issues that can stimulate bullying behavior in cats include having too many cats in too small of a territory and/or having too few resources. Most cat experts will say that you should have at least one bowl of food, one bowl of water and one litter box for each cat. Some vets suggest even having one extra, especially in the case of litter boxes. Cats that have not been spayed/neutered or were fixed later in life, tend to be more naturally aggressive and territorial.

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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


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9:14AM PST on Feb 5, 2014

That's one mean lookin' cat!

4:08PM PDT on Jul 18, 2013

All my 3 cats is not really a bully. They are at peace with each others.

9:49AM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

great article, i have a cat that shows all of those signs. maybe it's that she's just not getting enough attention. thanks for the insight!

12:35PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

my kittens do a lot of the stuff listed above but they are only playing with each other

7:47AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

thank you for sharing

9:25AM PDT on Mar 16, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

2:56AM PST on Mar 6, 2013

My kitten bullies my oldest cat. They're really noisey at night when they fight and they tear up the carpets fighting one and other

9:28AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

My cat is a bully to me too, when we got a new kitten we had to give it back!

5:40AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

One of my cats Daisy has always bullied my other cats throughout the years, but yet gets on with my latest kitty a ginger tom kitten

2:55AM PST on Feb 25, 2013 cat is so sweet

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I love this. So adorable I want to kiss this kitten!

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