Has Your Alpha Kitty Ever Faced an Insurrection?
Ever since little Lucipurr arrived in her forever home with us, Freyja has submitted to her as the dominant cat. We've always found it a little strange. Freyja is about six months older than Lucipurr and twice her size. We have a video of their first meeting, in which Freyja presents as afraid and angry but doesn't challenge Lucipurr directly.
We chalked it up to Freyja being a spoiled princess and just carried on as normal. My husband joked that spoiling our beloved Freyja had turned her into a giant wimp! I still suspect he's right. Lucipurr holds Freyja down to groom her on a daily basis and Freyja resists. It always turns into a fight -- but Freyja always makes the dramatic noises and runs away. She takes Freyja's food. She kicks Freyja out of all the beds, all the time. Basically, Lucipurr is the biggest little bully I've ever seen. And Freyja just takes it!
Everything started to change after Luci came back from her spay. Freyja knew something wasn't quite right with Luci while she was recovering ... and began to plan her takeover!
My husband was the first one to point it out. Freyja was staging a coup d'etat! It started off subtly and covertly enough. Once upon a time, we only had one radiator hammock. This was one of the most coveted kitty spots in the house, especially when the heat was on. If Freyja wouldn't let Luci in to snuggle with her, Luci would just kick her out of the hammock. One day, Luci came pockling over to ask Freyja to let her in. Normally, Freyja would start tensing up and get ready for a fight. But not this time. Freyja actually stood her ground. We were in shock!
LIttle did we know, that was only the beginning.
Luci was taking her recovery a lot more smoothly than Freyja had. She was a little sore and a little sleepy, and more timid than usual, but Freyja had spent her recovery complaining and having to go back to the vet for muscle strains (from too much jumping while on pain medication). I think in retrospect, she was letting Freyja have her time in the sun while silently plotting her revenge and return to the throne.
Freyja started standing up for herself in the kitchen, too. Luci is relentless when it comes to her food, and Freyja will often step back and let Luci at her bowl or her special treat (because Luci wolfed hers down in two seconds and Freyja isn't done yet, but Freyja's portion gets claimed by Luci). Well, Freyja was having none of it now. She started growling and actually refusing to move from her bowl when Luci would nudge over.
Freyja even started playing actively again when I would bring a toy out. Ever since Luci came home, she has dominated playtime. Freyja would always scoot back and watch warily while Luci brutally murdered whatever toy we were throwing about. Her "princess" demeanor was definitely visible!
But with Luci "on the bench," so to speak, Freyja let her own hunting and playing skills shine, becoming the wild cat again. It was amazing to see, after months of her shying away from play. It wasn't normal for Luci to be so laid back, but we knew she'd be springing back in no time. I like to think Freyja knew that as well and was just seizing the opportunity, embracing a do or die attitude, but sometimes I wonder if she really knew what was going to happen next.
Freyja wound up with so much chutzpah she started being the one to kick Luci out of the beds. We were witnessing a full-scale kitty revolution! Freyja has never been a fan of Luci grooming her, but she began extending "the paw" and holding it to Luci's face when Luci approached her. Like a kitty version of "the hand."
But Luci was springing back from her spay a lot more quickly than Freyja did, and in much better form. After her 10-day checkup, we got the all clear from the vet to let her do her thing ... and do her thing she did.
Luci began letting Freyja know that in no uncertain terms, her coup was over and the queen of the house was back in action. At first Freyja seemed a bit panicked -- you could see the "oh my gosh what have I done?" look in her eyes everytime Luci sauntered into the room. The uprising was squashed and squashed quickly. Luci was the one bopping Freyja on the head and smacking her in the face to initiate play or just tell her to go away.
Something surprising and good did come from Freyja's attempted coup d'etat, however. Freyja is now more confident and standing up for herself to this day. She even initiates play with Luci. Freyja is no longer as timid and submissive to Luci was she was before, which is such a relief for me to see. I was worried about her stress levels, because as much as Luci bullies Freyja she also loves her to pieces, where it always seemed like Freyja merely tolerated and maybe sort of liked Luci -- sometimes.
Now, I have no doubt they are true sisters. We don't even need to invest in Feliway!
Overall, Freyja's coup d'etat was for the best. While she's still the beta to Luci's alpha, she is more confident and ready to defend herself and stand up against Luci's reign. How about your cats? Is there a clearly defined alpha-beta relationship? Has one ever tried to overthrow the other? Tell us in the comments!
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About the author: Hana lives in Belfast after moving from the U.S. of A. with her two spoiled kittens, two chubby rats, and one cheeky husband. Hana works in admin but occasionally goes on tour working for an Austrian death metal band. When she's not putting up road-weary punk rockers and metallers, you can find her taking the cats around town in their stroller, whipping up new recipes, or playing way too many video games. She writes at Mommyish and Catster. Follow her on Twitter and Tumblr.