Example of Feline Bullying and Dominance

This short video, I think, is an example of feline bullying to achieve dominance. It certainly looks like bullying (if bullying cat exist in cats as it is a term used by people for people). The ginger tabby cat is exerting his authority over the other cat. The food is the same in each bowl. Therefore the ‘bullying’ cat simply wants to prevent the other cat getting to food or feels a need to control the other cat. As mentioned, it looks like bullying to achieve dominance, in a nutshell.



This kind of situation can arise, as all experienced cat owners know, in multi-cat households and where cats can compete for food or the use of the cat litter or indeed any other interesting and utilitarian activity.

As social might tensions arise when unrelated domestic cats live together in a multi-cat household, it may be the case that a dominance hierarchy naturally develops in order to keep the peace. Some scientists have proposed that cat societies are structured according to dominance hierarchies (Dr Bradshaw in Cat Sense). The dominance process takes place when larger, stronger, more experienced and more aggressive cats impose themselves on younger and less experienced and more timid cats.

There is a lot of information on the internet about the need to provide a place to hide for timid cats in multi-cat households. This helps to reduce stress in the timid cat. In one study in a multi-cat household a certain individual cat appeared to be dominant. He controlled who went where and who conceded space to whom. However, there was no hierarchy below the one or two dominant cats.

Apparently, dominant cats sometimes “ostentatiously” scratch their claws in front of subordinate cats. This may be a display of confidence. Dr Bradshaw speculates that when one cat grooms another it may be an alternative to aggression by placing himself in a ‘dominance framework’ as he calls it “whereby one animal controls another’s activities”.

He also speculates that the more aggressive cats appear to do most of the allogrooming (licking another cat). He argues that this might imply that licking another cat may be a form of apology for a ‘recent loss of temper’. The subservient cat allows himself to be groomed because he remembers that he was recently attacked and grooming is better than being bitten.




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Example of Feline Bullying and Dominance — 3 Comments

  1. I had a ginger cat (Danny) who I observed was dominant but in a benevolent leader type way. All he had to do to maintain order in our 14 cat household was to simply approach, stare and maybe smack and order restored. I called him my second in command.

    I currently have an older male who routinely chases a younger female, for what I don’t know. When among the group of 14 (most of whom are deceased now) he was not dominant at all. So as the elder and dominant of 4 four younger I’m not sure if he is bullying, just chasing because she runs easily or simply doesn’t like her. I don’t think it’s because he likes her or desires a cuddle mate, because another young female constantly throws herself at him but he’s not interested.

    Lastly, I have a neighbor who has a young Bengal who he walks on leash. We don’t know the generation removed from Asian leopard cat. She spies my cats at a distance and goes into a prey croutch with swishing tail. She’s even done a little charging. I offered that we introduce them up close but we’re concerned that although the Bengal is only a bit over a year, she might not know the difference between mock attacking and real. I know Bengals can attack others for real, but I wonder if we might be missing an opportunity to acclimate her to accepting others. The only alternative is to keep them separate and never know or give her the chance. Does anyone know Bengals?

  2. My little, older (she’s 17 now) female is a compact bundle of “I am the Queen.” Most of the rest of the 6 are all younger and bigger and stronger than Kutawnnie. However, none of them want to challenge her. When she pases, there will be a battle royal, as the ginger male and the black male are both alpha. Since the black male has been here longer, the ginger doesn’t challenge him. He just teases him. There are occasional spats, but no real fights.The third male, also deaf is a total goof who loves to tear around the house. At least now that it is cooler. My gray deaf female is a gentle soul, who leaves the disagreements to the others and has her own special area to get out of the way. The little black female (also deaf and scarred) doesn’t challenge anyone-yet. She is built along the lines of Kutawnnie-small square and snub-nosed. I think little Joy will give the fellas a run for their money and end up with the title. I don’t allow any major disagreements, and they all know what the big squirt bottle means.

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