Do You Have An “Alpha” Cat?

Alpha cat

Alpha cat

If you’ve ever had more than one dog in your family at a time, you’re probably aware of the term “alpha” dog. The “alpha” dog is usually the dog that keeps the rest of the dogs in line and sometimes even tries to rule the entire household (humans included). They’re generally strong-willed, won’t put up with any nonsense from the rest of the pack and make sure everything is in the order. But, is there such a thing as an “alpha” cat? If so, do you have one in your household?

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are “alpha” cats and I definitely have one in my household. Her name is Momma Kitty; aptly named since she is part mothering of the other cats and part ruling with an iron fist…or paw. She’s taken on the role of making sure that everything is run by a strict schedule and all the other cats obey the rules she’s set forth. If everyone follows the rules, then order will be maintained throughout her small kingdom, better known as our house.

She is a quiet ruler and never raises her voice. It is extremely rare to hear her meow at all. She waits patiently each morning for each of the food bowls to be filled and she will sample each bowl to make sure that it’s up to her standards. She is the first to eat and will politely push the others away if they try to eat first. Being the overseer of our kitty colony, she will wait until everyone has finished their food before she leaves the dining area.

While the others head off to explore, play and sunbathe nearby our house, she stays put. She will stay near the garage where the food and beds are located. She keeps an eye out around our garage area and observes all the happenings around her kingdom. She stands guard to make sure her food dishes are not taken away before being empty and does her best to ensure no other animals try to invade her space. She waits for each member of our kitty family to return each evening and escorts them to the food dishes.

Occasionally, one of the cats will try to get too rowdy with her or another cat in the colony. She will tolerate a few caresses by them but, never prolonged rubbing or nudging. The cats usually get one shot and then a quick whack to the back of the head if they go in for more. As for roughhousing, that is totally unacceptable in her opinion. She will intervene if there’s any fighting or wrestling among the other cats.
She is a very gentle cat but, she takes her role very seriously. If everyone follows the rules, there are no problems. However, if you step out of line or try to eat some kibble without her, she will certainly convey her displeasure. Sometimes all it takes is a long glare in another kitty’s direction to get them to rethink things and get them to straighten up. The other cats know that Momma Kitty rules and they usually have no problem with this. As the eldest kitty in the group, she has definitely earned their respect and all is maintained accordingly in her kingdom.


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Do You Have An “Alpha” Cat? — 24 Comments

  1. My Dusty. In 1999, she found me at work the day after Hurricane Floyd blew past us. She was “about” six weeks old then.

    I took her home and she, even as a kitten, very soon became the QUEEN. She could control the other two with just a look. It was hilarious, and kind of fascinating to see that transformation. My biggest boy then, “Cosmo”, was easily three times her size, but even he quickly ran, ears back with that “Oh, crap!” body language, when she gave him nothing more than that look.

    When we’d go to bed, she get up once, patrol the perimeter then come back and settle in. If either of the boys came wandering out, she’d put them back in their place.

    She was something.

    • Wow. That is true alpha cat behavior. It is very interesting but Cosmo immediately understood she was the top cat and I wonder how that message is transmitted other than through the way she looks at them. Thanks for sharing. As I am sure you know Dusty is a black calico with a super blaze down her nose.

  2. Momma Kitty is a beautiful orange “tubby”, isn’t she?
    She looks so sweet but stern.
    She has an ear tip?

  3. Hi Tim,

    Much like Jackson Galaxy’s feelings about the word “alpha cat” is unnerving – since cats aren’t in the canine family, I prefer “top cat”.

    We have a “top cat” for sure- He finds a way to get his needs met before his brother, and most of the time he isn’t timid in the least. His name is Sir Hubble Pinkerton.

    His brother, Dr. Hush Puppy- while he can definitely sway a paw at his brother when he has had enough- is more philosophical about things, and if it isn’t really important to him- he generally will allow his brother to have first place in line- but this is because he doesn’t get attached to most things.

    I thought I would add Jackson’s wonderful article about why he doesn’t like the term- the video is quite delightful.

    Thanks for an interesting article!

    • Agreed, Elisa.
      What really happens in my world is that there is a reigning king; and, as I said, it is most always a large orange male.
      At least in my colonies, the king eats first, then the females are allowed, followed by the remaining males. Any extraneous ones such as a rare newbie or stray waiting on the outskirts can eat when all are done.

  4. Since our old cat Ebony died almost 7 years ago our two 12 year old cats Walter and Jozef have never really sorted out who is top cat, they seem to job share lol

  5. I have an alpha cat. She passed two years ago at the age of nineteen. (I see you, Oliver! <3) She was the matriarch, a grey-haired silver tabby, who was given to me as a kitten when I was crewperson for an arborist, Stan Greve. I fondly knew her as Ollie, or "Owlie," as she had huge golden eyes that could see every little thing going on in the household of five cats, both male and female. She ruled. Respected by all, and yes, she ruled with a firm paw.

  6. Super article, Tim.
    This is so fascinating to me, because I don’t think I’ve ever had a female alpha. How common is that?
    In all of my worlds, the reign belongs to large orange males. But, I have seen some strong females in sort of the secondary position once in a while.

  7. well ive had both an Alpha female Tammy and Ozzie is the present Alpha Male. Though with the introduction of a female cat Jasmin might change that. see pics

    • Do you think that the size of a cat matters when it comes to being an alpha cat?

      By the way the reason why one or 2 of your photographs did not upload is because the file sizes too large. You may know that. Don’t worry but you can reduce the size online and you can find out how by clicking on the link below the comment box.

      • thanks yea i realised that thanks. yea well tammy was a big girl. she loved to boss her humans around as well. She was was special and unique as she could jump up on door handles and open doors. I had a smaller fridge/freezer when i was on my own and she could open the them with her paw. I had to put a block in front of it as she was very clever. i had to try and outsmart her as if she didnt get her way she would try and control. SHes sadly missed. Ozzie taken over her role now im sure both tammy and cassy have passed their spirit to ozzie and cassy to jasmin as can see it clearly. Hes not very happy about the kitten. but i think hes getting used to it now. The others are abit more accepting of it.

    • He beguiles the others with his good looks! He is so handsome that they have to look up to him. They think he is superior to them and that is why he is an alpha cat. He has a presence which allows him to be the alpha cat. I’m just joking but there may be something in it namely our cat looks. I don’t know. Just a thought.

      • Forget sleeping with him. He can rattle a door harder than Linda Blair in The Exorcist! He’s pushy when going ofter food and he never has to wash his own butt or ears. I look down a lot when sitting on the couch to find he joined me. He considers me his possession. He loves Sealy and Sealy loves him.

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