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How to Stop My Cat from Bullying My Other Cat?

Updated by Sheryl on Dec 16, 2021

stop one cat from bullying another

People who love cats will not only keep one cat. Owners often say no to the new feline, but there are two more cats in the house the next moment. And then fighting, cat bullying, and random urinating often occur in these multi-cat families, making cat owners distressed. So today, I'm here to talk about cat bullying in multi-cat families and discuss how to get one cat to stop bullying another and help them live together peacefully.

  • How to Tell If Cats Are Playing or Fighting?
  • Reasons for Cat Bullying
  • For Owners Going to Bring a New Cat: Get One Cat to Stop Bullying the New Cat
  • For Multi-Cat Families Cat Bullying Occurred: Stop One Cat from Bullying Another

To confirm if there is bullying between cats, the most important point is to distinguish whether the cats are playing or fighting. It's normal for cats who are close to each other to have some playful fighting which you don't need to worry about. Here I have listed some normal interactions and abnormal bullying between cats.

Normal Interaction between Cats

  • Groom Each Other
  • No worries! They are just licking each other, not biting! As long as you don't see them biting with their sharp teeth, it's OK. Grooming can occur between two cats who have been with each other for a long time in a house, or between cats who are new yet attracted to each other--although this is rare.

    cats groom each other
  • Rub against Each Other
  • Don't worry too much if you see two cats huddled together, they may just be scratching each other. When a big cat and a kitten are crowded together, it looks like the big cat is using the size difference to oppress the kitten, but they may just tickle each other, just pay attention to whether kitten's expressions are painful. Rubbing can also exchange smells on each other and make their relationship closer.

  • Noninterference between Cats
  • When you see cats do not have intimate behaviors, then you may think that one of the cats are avoiding being bullied, it's normal actually. Cats are solitary animals compared to dogs. If the resources allocated by the owner are sufficient and fair, it's possible for the cats to live independently and coexist peacefully in the same house. Distant cats will divide their territory in the room and try to avoid the areas where the other often appears, use their own toys, sleep on their own nests, or use public resources at different times, without interfering with each other to avoid conflict.

    NOTE: If cats are interacting or doing playful fight normally, try not to impose any interference, such as forcefully separating two cats rubbing against each other.

    Signs Cat Keeps Bullying Other Cat

    (1) Physical Bullying

    • Aggressive behaviors such as screaming and yelling;
    • Erected tail and hair, making them look more deterrent;
    • Increase breathing rate, highly-tense muscles, and trembling body;
    • The bully slaps, scratches and bites another cat, provoking disputes;
    • The bully follows the bullied and waits for the opportunity to attack the him;
    • The bully occupies another cat's food bowl and yelling at him;
    • The bullied appears abnormal behaviors such as loss of appetite, constant licking of fur, and decreased desire to play;

    (2) Psychological Bullying

    Psychological bullying is common in multi-cat families-especially when the house is small-which is a powerful bullying method. Cats are smart animals; they choose the bullied because they know whom he can bully. The bully will psychologically suppress another cat. The most common way is to keep staring at the other cat and demonstrating to him. And the more the victims fear the bullies, the more they bully, and they even take pleasure in it. This kind of bully will cause chronic stress, which is the most easily ignored by cat lover, and often brings the most serious consequences.

    one cat keeps staring at the other cat

    After confirming that there is cat bullying in the house, it needs to be stopped. However, before preventing the situation from getting worse, it is necessary to understand the reasons behind this behavior. Prescribing the right medicine often takes effect faster. Which of the following reasons does your cat belong to?

    REASON 1: To Fight for Territory and Public Resources

    Cats have a strong sense of territory. They often patrol their own territory. Once they feel violated, they certainly attack each other and defend their own territory. This is common when the owner adopts a new kitten or a guest brings his cat to the home. The original cat will bully the new feline for a long time in order to compete for the territory, food bowl, food and even the owner's favor (the owner is also a part of the resources in their territory). These are usually "wars" triggered by provocation from one side.

    REASON 2: To Fight for Dominance

    In multi-cat families, one cat often wants to dominate and attacks other cats. There are three possible situations of this behavior: (a) Younger cat bullying older cat; (B) Bigger kitten bullying smaller kitten: Because of size differences, small cats are often being clamped, bitten, stepped on heads and thrown down by big cats, and it is difficult to break free; (c) Strong cat bullying docile cat: Strong cats tend to attack docile cats, possibly to ward off potential adversaries. The more timid a cat is, the easier it is to be bullied. It must be stopped as soon as possible.

    bigger kitten bullying smaller kitten

    REASON 3: Male Cats fight for Mating

    Bullying is common for two male cats with strong territorial awareness, especially for two male cats without neutering. Some cats even fight frequently after a long time of running-in. In addition to fighting for territory, they also fight for spouses.

    REASON 4: Inborn Class Consciousness

    Cats have a clear social hierarchy, and male cats are in the dominated position in this hierarchy. But if an aggressive female cat does not want to be disturbed by a male cat, she may attack the male cat. Some male cats usually retreat and leave the female cat alone. But a challenging male cat will not easily let go of this female cat. Out of this inherent hierarchy, there is a bully between male cat and female cat.

    REASON 5: Cats Lack Social Training

    Cats need to engage in some social training after two months of birth. They need to learn social skills such as grooming and preying. If a newly adopted cat is put into the cat family without any social training or its socialization process is not completed, he will have both physical and psychological problems, and they will show fear or bully others, which will eventually make it difficult to adapt to the cat group and human.

    REASON 6: Cat Feels Stressed

    A cat who feels bored, depressed and anxious will be extremely unstable because the owner's care is not in place for a long time. Once he meets another cat, he will attack the cat, like dry wood meeting fire.

    REASON 7: Too Little Space for Multiple Cats

    As mentioned above, it's possible for two cats to live together peacefully, provided that the resources in the home are sufficient and evenly distributed. Cats are animals that build a sense of security by smell. However, if cats can't be divided into their own independent areas when they look around at home, they can't leave their own smell. So, they have to fight with annoying companions whom they meet sooner or later to compete for limited resources.

    How to Stop My Cat from Bullying My Other Cat?

    Full preparation is the most effective way to prevent bullying from happening. When you want to take a new cat home and prevent bullying, try the following steps. Of course, if you have brought the kitten home, it's okay. You can also try the following steps to re-introduce the two cats.

    STEP 1: Make them familiar with each other's smell. Dip a towel or cloth with the smell of the new cat, then take it home and put it in the range of the old cat. Let him get used to another cat's smell first, and wait a week before letting the two cats under the same roof (at the same time, let the new cat know the smell of the old cat). Don't put them in the same space right away when you bring the new cat back. If you can, let them eat at different rooms or staggered times.

    STEP 2: Let them approach slowly. After this period of time, within your control, bring them closer (for example, through a door or a cage) and take toys to play with them. If you find that the more powerful cat is not attacking another one, give him snacks as rewards, and at the same time praise him in words, pet him, groom him, and hug him, so that he feels that he is still loved even if you have a new pet.

    STEP 3: Wait patiently and take good care of them so that they get used to each other's existence. If the strong cat still attacks, use toys to divert attention and isolate immediately; try STEP 2 again after a period of isolation. But let him know that isolation is not punishment, and give him good care in other aspects. Cat is smart, when he realizes that this is punishment, it may make him more dissatisfied with the other cat. Let cat have some friendly interactions with the cat in a cage. Once they show no signs of aggression, reward them and put them together.

    peaceful cats
    1. Before adopting a cat, it is best to observe the cat's temper and personality, as well as its social behavior in the cat group, and make a decision after careful consideration.
    2. After adopting a new cat, remember to supplement the corresponding resources, such as food bowls, litter boxes, toys, cat beds, etc., to minimize the contention between cats for resources and space.
    3. Don't keep too many cats in the house, no more than 3 cats are better.
    4. To prevent accidents, try not to let friends or other visitors bring cats to the house.
    • Do social training for bullying cats or cats who lack socialization before, stop the cat from being a bully.
    • Divide independent activity space and resources for cats involved in bullying, stagger feeding time, keep them at a distance, so as to reduce cat bullying caused by robbing resources. Do not put bowls in a public area or narrow spaces.
    • Sterilize cats. Sterilized cats tend to become gentle. Studies have shown that 90% of male cats' aggressive behavior will disappear after neutering, which can greatly reduce bullying behavior caused by estrus and hormones (but there are a few examples that sterilized female cats are more aggressive).
    • Don't be partial to one cat. Give the same care to all cats. Don't show special care or affection for one cat to stop the cat from being bullied. Even if there is such a tendency, please make sure it is not displayed in front of all cats.
    • When there is aggressive behavior between cats, use toys to divert attention; When friendly interaction occurs, give treats as a reward.
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    • Keep the cat moderately hungry. Cats' appetite for food can be kept high by moderately reducing feeding (about 20%), which can reduce their aggressive desire and increase the attractiveness of food as an extra reward.
    • If none of the above methods work, ask a pet behaviorist for help, or what you can do only is to send one of the cats away. Of course, this is a scene that all owners don't want to see. Please make sure that all the above methods have been tried before making such a decision.
    Don't forcefully separate the cats that are fighting, as this may hurt you. You can't yell loudly either, which may make the cats rebellious, of course, they may not hear your yelling at all when they are aggressive emotionally. Remember to use toys or other things (not snacks) to divert their attention, but don't point a laser pointer or cat-playing sticks at one of these cats to aggravate the conflict.
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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