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Does Your Cat Ever Get Jealous?

After we added a fourth pet, a lap dog, my Ghost Cat wants more time, fights for lap space, and even tries to prevent me from dog-walking.

Heather Marcoux  |  Jan 30th 2015


My beautiful Ghost Cat was the first pet I shared my adult life with, and as such she holds a special place in my heart and my home. She is the princess of this house, but like any magnanimous monarch, she has graciously made room for the pets who’ve come after her. Although she disliked Specter the kitten at first, Ghost Cat eventually adopted the little fluff ball as her own, and while she was generally indifferent to GhostBuster the Lab, she quickly came to regard him as both a great playmate and a pillow.

But when my husband and I decided to add a fourth (and final) animal to our home, Ghost Cat made it clear that she didn’t want to see my affections fractioned any further. Once Marshmallow — a fearful and clingy rescue dog — arrived in our household, Ghost Cat suddenly wanted time with me more than anything. It was strange, because in the weeks and months after other two were adopted, Ghost Cat’s bond with my husband had become stronger — it’s no secret that I was a little jealous when Ghost Cat started to prefer my husband’s lap to my own. Little did I know that all I had to do to win her back was fill my lap with another cuddle companion.

If Ghost Cat arrives in the living room to find Marshmallow already occupying my lap, she likes take up residence on my outstretched legs, waiting for the right opportunity to reclaim her throne. She inches closer to my lap until she’s either ousted Marshmallow or forced the dog to move over and share me. Other times Ghost Cat will position herself under my hand as I move to pet Marshy, and on one occasion, she even took a swipe at Marshmallow when the dog refused to move out of the way.

Thankfully, the jealousy Ghost Cat feels toward Marshmallow is very limited — she only feels threatened by the new dog if I am in the middle. When I’m not in the picture, Ghost Cat and Marshmallow are the best of friends, often curling up beside each other for a cuddle.

I don’t think it’s Marshmallow herself who Ghost Cat objects to, but rather the amount of attention the timid terrier mix demands. Marshmallow is, by far, the neediest animal in our household. She follows me everywhere and is constantly pushing her nose into my hand, demanding the affection and comfort she was denied in her early life (she’s also an unpredictable flight risk who needs to be constantly monitored). Ghost Cat — who also had a rough childhood — takes umbrage with my coddling of Marshmallow and obviously wants me to spend more time indoors playing with the kitties and less time outside with the dogs.

I know this because Ghost Cat actually tries to stop me from taking the dogs out for walks (and certainly succeeds in delaying me). Whenever I pull the leashes out of the front closet, Ghost Cat comes running into the living room and leaps up on the back of the couch. She begins purring as I pull on my winter jacket and clip the dogs’ collars into place. Ghosty looks down at me from her perch at the back of the couch as I bend down to put on my winter boots, and as I stand up she makes her move — launching her soft body onto my shoulder.

Once she’s up there, purring in my ear and nuzzling into my neck, I just don’t have it in me to shoo her off. It’s just too cute. So instead, we stay there at the entryway for however long she deems fit — usually just a few minutes. I stand there, sweating in my winter paraphernalia, and the dogs sit, bored and tethered at my feet. We only leave for our walk when Ghost Cat decides to jump down and free us all from her adorable tyranny.

I don’t quite know what to do about Ghost Cat’s jealousy over the new dog. Like I said, they seem to be best pals when they’re not completing for my cuddles. I think I will just wait for Ghost Cat’s jealousy to subside. The way she ties to stop me for going for dog walks is actually pretty cute, and since I am the kind of person who won’t move if there’s a cat on my lap, I’m also the kind of person who isn’t going to kick my cat off my shoulders if she wants to be up there.

Instead, I look at this as an exercise in patience (for both me and the dogs) and I also look at these delays to dog walking as a special gift from Ghosty. I think she wants me to know that she loves me, and to remember that she loved me first, before all these other animals arrived. She wants to make sure that I leave the house with a heart full of Ghost Cat love, a way to guarantee that I’ll always return.

She may be a jealous little cat, but she sure knows how to make a lady feel special (and how to make sure she’s always served first at treat times).

How do your cats demonstrate their jealousy? Let me know in the comments!

Read more from Heather Marcoux:

About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten, GhostBuster the Lab and her newest dog, Marshmallow, make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +.