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Why is my cat bullying my other cat?

Why is my cat bullying my other cat?

August 15, 2023

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Cats are known for their independent nature, but sometimes they can exhibit behaviors that leave their owners puzzled and concerned. One such behavior is when one cat in a multi-cat household bullies another. If you’ve ever wondered, “Why is my cat bullying my other cat?” you’re not alone. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior is crucial to ensuring the well-being of your feline companions.

The Complex Dynamics of Cat Hierarchy

Why is my cat bullying my other cat?

When it comes to cats, hierarchy plays a significant role in their social structure. Unlike dogs, who often have a clear alpha or pack leader, cats have a more nuanced hierarchy. This hierarchy is influenced by factors such as age, gender, and personality traits.

1. Territorial Disputes

Cats are highly territorial animals, and conflicts can arise when two or more cats feel their territory is being invaded or encroached upon. This territorial aggression can manifest as bullying behavior towards the other cat.

For example, if you introduce a new cat into your home, the existing cat may feel threatened and attempt to establish dominance through aggressive behaviors. This can include hissing, growling, swatting, or chasing the new cat.

2. Resource Competition

Another common reason for intercat aggression is resource competition. Cats are known to be possessive of their food, water bowls, litter boxes, and favorite resting spots. When these resources are limited or not evenly distributed, it can lead to conflicts between cats.

For instance, if one cat feels that another is encroaching on their food bowl or litter box territory, they may exhibit bullying behaviors as a way to protect what they perceive as theirs.

3. Personality Clashes

Just like humans, cats have distinct personalities. Some cats are more dominant and assertive, while others are more submissive and laid-back. When two cats with incompatible personalities are forced to coexist, it can lead to tension and bullying.

For example, a dominant cat may constantly harass a more timid cat, leading to a power imbalance within the household.

Recognizing Bullying Behaviors

It’s essential to differentiate between normal feline play and actual bullying behavior. While play can sometimes appear rough, it is usually reciprocal and voluntary. Bullying behaviors, on the other hand, are characterized by one-sided aggression and intimidation.

Here are some common signs that your cat may be bullying another:

  • Chasing and cornering the other cat
  • Pinning the other cat down
  • Hissing, growling, or yowling at the other cat
  • Blocking access to resources such as food, water, or litter boxes
  • Stealing toys or beds from the other cat
  • Excessive grooming of the other cat, leading to fur loss or skin irritation

Addressing Cat Bullying: Tips for Owners

If you suspect that your cat is bullying another cat in your household, there are several steps you can take to address and manage the situation:

1. Provide Sufficient Resources

Ensure that each cat has access to their own set of resources such as food bowls, water bowls, litter boxes, scratching posts, and resting spots. This reduces competition and minimizes potential triggers for bullying behavior.

If you have multiple cats, it’s recommended to have at least one resource per cat, plus an extra. For example, if you have three cats, provide four litter boxes.

2. Create Separate Safe Spaces

Cats need their own territory and safe spaces where they can retreat when they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Provide multiple hiding spots and elevated perches throughout your home to allow each cat to have their own space.

This can include cat trees, shelves, or even dedicated rooms where cats can escape from each other’s presence and establish a sense of security.

3. Gradual Introductions and Reintroductions

If you’re introducing a new cat into your household or trying to reintroduce two cats who are not getting along, it’s crucial to take it slow. Rushing the process can lead to increased stress and aggression.

Start by keeping the cats separated in different rooms and gradually introduce them to each other’s scent through scent swapping techniques. This can be done by rubbing a cloth on one cat’s face and then placing it near the other cat’s sleeping area.

Once they seem comfortable with each other’s scents, you can proceed to supervised face-to-face interactions in a controlled environment. Reward positive behavior with treats or praise to reinforce positive associations.

4. Consult with a Veterinarian

If your attempts to resolve the bullying behavior are unsuccessful or if the aggression escalates, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the behavior and provide guidance on behavior modification techniques or medications if necessary.


Understanding why cats bully other cats is crucial for maintaining harmony in multi-cat households. By recognizing the complex dynamics of cat hierarchy and addressing underlying causes such as territorial disputes, resource competition, and personality clashes, you can help create a peaceful environment for all your feline companions.

Remember, patience and gradual introductions are key when trying to resolve bullying behavior. With proper management, love, and attention, you can foster a harmonious relationship between your cats and ensure they live happy and fulfilled lives.

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