Owning more than one cat can be a challenge. Like humans, cats have their quirks, and sometimes, one strong personality can clash with another. Of course, clashing personalities aren’t problematic unless one cat is bullying another.
So, what do you do when one of your cats is bullying the other? We’ve found some helpful tips and tricks for navigating this tricky situation. Read on to find out how to deal with your pets and restore peace in your home.
How Do You Know if It’s Bullying or Playtime?
How can you be sure you have bullying on your hands and not two very playful cats? Cat bullying comes in many forms; some are obvious, and others are more subtle.
The main difference between playing and bullying is that bullying tends to be one-sided. Cats can go from cuddling to play-fighting and back to cuddling, which is a healthy relationship. Play can sometimes even appear aggressive, with some hissing involved. The difference is that the cat being bullied will seem fearful of the other cat.
Signs of Bullying
If your other cat is sometimes the instigator, it may just be part of a game. However, bullying is likely involved if one cat is always the aggressor. Other signs to look out for are:
- Dilated pupils
- Flattened ears
- Litter box guarding
- Territorial aggression
- Toy hoarding
Signs your cat is being bullied are a puffed-up tail and flattened ears while fighting. Loud hissing and hiding are also indications of bullying. Some of these signs can be difficult to spot, and the more in tune you are with your cat’s habits and temperament, the easier it will be for you to determine when something is wrong.
The 6 Tips to Stop Cat Bullying
If you can’t change your cat’s bullying ways, the worst outcome is you might have to give one of your cats up because you can’t keep them separate forever. Unfortunately, keeping them away from one another is not very practical unless you live on an estate, which most of us don’t. But don’t worry, there are lots of things you can do before you reach that stage!
1. Separate and Reintroduce
The way you introduce your cats to one another is the foundation of their relationship. Even if they’ve been living together for some time, you can reintroduce them if they weren’t properly socialized. Start by separating your cats into different rooms with a closed door between them.
Use something the other has touched, like a blanket, and allow them to sniff it. Then, supervise short visits between them both. You can cut the meeting short and return them to their respective rooms if there is any sign of aggression.
2. Separate Spaces
Ensuring your cats have separate bowls and litter boxes can reduce bullying. Having separate bowls will reduce conflicts during meals, and separate litter boxes allow each cat to enjoy a space with their scent. The litter box rule you should follow is one litter box for each cat, plus an extra one.
3. Be Generous With Your Time
Jealousy is a powerful emotion. If both cats feel loved and get to spend time with you, they’re less likely to bully each other. Try to give your cats an equal share of playtime and lap time.
4. Invest in Toys
Engaging with a bored cat is easier with toys. Invest in something unique for each cat. Does one enjoy puzzles while your other cat enjoys a feather teaser toy? Not only will playing with toys benefit your pets because they’ll feel special, but it will also burn off some of their pent-up energy.
5. Neuter & Spay
Neutering is one of the best ways to prevent aggression in cats. Even if your cats are the same gender, it’s worth getting them both fixed to reduce aggression that can manifest as bullying behavior.
6. Seek Veterinary Advice
Remember, you’re never alone when solving your pet’s problems. Your vet is on hand to give you advice and develop solutions. They may advise bringing your cat in for an examination to see if any medical conditions might be causing aggression. You may be referred to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a certified animal behaviorist.
What Should You Not Do?
Avoid punishing your cat verbally or physically for the bullying behavior. Yelling and swatting at your fighting cats only leads to more aggression. When breaking up a fight, a spray bottle is an effective short-term solution but teaches your cats nothing.
It’s also crucial that you don’t break up fights with your hand since you might become the new target for your cat’s aggression. Using a blanket to cover one of the cats and break up the fight usually works, and it will save you from being clawed and bitten when you carry the cat into another room.
The thought of a cat having to leave or getting injured is difficult to comprehend, but it could happen if you cannot stop the bullying. We hope this guide has been useful in helping identify aggressive behavior in felines. If the bullying becomes something you can no longer handle alone, contact your vet for a consultation.
Featured Image Credit: Samarskiy, Shutterstock