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Feline bullying & how to stop it.

Discovering your cat is a bully can be tough. But feline bullying is a widespread problem. About 27% of cats who come into shelters for behavioral reasons were relinquished due to aggression.

Not all bullies are aggressive, though. Cats can be passive bullies, too, making life difficult on feline housemates in sly ways. That's why it's important to recognize the signs of feline bullying and learn ways to put a stop to it.

Is your cat a bully?

One cat attacking another cat without provocation is a clear sign of bullying. Unfortunately, not all cat-on-cat aggression is so obvious. A feline bully may guard food and water dishes, shield the litter box or resting space from other users, or refuse to let other cats touch the toys. Some cats hiss or growl when another animal comes close to you, the human. A few even show aggression through staring.

If you suspect one of your cats is bullying another pet in your home, it's time to take action.


How to stop one cat from bullying another.

Have your pet spayed or neutered.
It's the most effective bullying prevention program around. By sterilizing your pets, you reduce the sexual frustration and aggression that provokes intact, same-gender cats into attacking each other. Plus, you're doing everyone a service since sterilization also reduces feral cat populations and decreases certain feline cancers.

Provide multiple resources.
Are your cats fighting over the food bowl? Try buying a second one and setting up a feeding station far away from the first. Are toys the problem? Invest in a few more playthings for the cats.

Add territory to your home.
Cats are territorial creatures who may attack when another animal encroaches on their home turf. You don't have to add a new wing to the house just for the cats, but a second hammock, cat tree, or high space on the shelf may reduce squabbles.

Follow the law of the litterbox.
A home needs one litterbox per cat plus one extra. Two cats require three boxes. Three cats? Four boxes. And so on. If your house has more than one floor, make sure there's a box on each level and that they all sit in unobstructed areas. An adequate number of litter facilities can keep the peace between feline housemates.

Confirm it's really a bullying issue.
Some cats earn a reputation as bullies when in fact they are simply ill or even extra energetic. Before you let your cat get the bully label, take her to the vet for a checkup. If your cat seems to be more energetic than most, provide plenty of puzzle toys, active games, and playtime. You may find that your "bully cat" has a charming personality when she's in good health and well entertained.

How to stop a cat from bullying a dog.
Cartoon stereotypes have us believe that dogs bully cats. Some dogs do, but a cat can also be the instigator in a feline-canine spat. If you're worried that your cat is bullying your dog, you're probably right.

In general, cats bully dogs for one of three reasons:

  • The cat has a high prey drive.
  • The dog keeps up boisterous play after the cat is tired.
  • The dog noses around the cat's litterbox too often.

Let's deal with these in order.

While dogs with high prey drives can be deadly to cats, it is cats who are the more predatory creatures in the wild. Often, playing with your cat can help redirect its natural attack instincts. Spaying or neutering may also help curb the animal's prey drive. If these options don't work, separate the animals as much as possible until you can talk to a vet or a pet behaviorist.

If your dog is innocently (or not-so-innocently) provoking the cat with enthusiastic play maneuvers, work on behavior training. A clicker and a few commands can help restore inter-species harmony in the home.

Finally, if the dog is irritating the cat while she's doing business, put a stop to it by choosing a covered litter box like the Modkat or Modkat XL Litter Boxes. They minimize order and keep "treats" safely shut away.


Final thoughts.

Feline bullying is no fun for any member of the household, but with patience and effort, you can help minimize most cat aggression.

Have you ever had a bully cat? Do you know tips and techniques we didn't mention? Share them with us in an email or on Facebook. We're always looking for new ideas to keep our cats healthy and happy.