How do I make my cat stand up to bullying by other cats?

They say that there are two broad cat personality types: confident and timid. Of course, there is a spectrum of personality types but the two halves of the spectrum can be divided into confidence and timidity. A timid cat will more likely be bullied, pushed around and dominated by a more dominant and confident cat. This scenario may be evident in a multi-cat household. The owner might dislike seeing one of their cats being pushed around so they ask internet users how can they make their timid get stand-up to a bully.

Change a cat's character?
Change a cat’s character? Almost impossible. Image: Pusheen (modified).
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Building confidence?

Well, in my opinion I don’t think that there is a lot that you can do about it. A cat’s character is more or less fixed after about ten weeks. You can educate a human to be more confident and stand-up to bullying but it’s a long process and quite difficult to achieve. After all personality is partly due to inheritance and parlty due to experiences. You can’t change the inheritance half. But at least with a human you can talk to them, convince them and train them to understand that they should not be submissive to a bully. And you can do and say things which boosts a person’s confidence. Also life experience can build confidence through success.

These are things that are difficult do with a domestic cat so it is difficult to apply correctional training to a cat with the intention of changing their character. Normally, you’ll probably have to accept it and respect it. Although you can create an environment which encourages confidence such as making the home feel secure. Jackson Galaxy would say that you can help a cat become more confident by allowing them to discover their raw cat mojo. What he means is creating the environment in which a cat can fully express his natural instincts and drives. This should build confidence. He describes it as recovering a cat’s mojo by encouraging them to cross their challenge lines.

Timid character a good thing

Looking on the bright side, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be a retiring, timid cat. There are many advantages especially if the cat is allowed outside because it makes them more cautious, which protects them from traffic accidents and other dangerous incidents. It is the confident young male cats who are most likely to be run over by a vehicle on the road. Or to get into a fight and be injured.

I would welcome the fact that my cat is timid both for his or her safety and for my peace of mind. The way you deal with a timid cat in a multi-cat household is to accommodate that timidity by allowing them to find hiding places either high up or under an object. And you separate out there feeding bowls and their litter trays so they don’t have to fight over their food or when they go to the toilet. This allows the timid cat to avoid a confrontation with the more dominant one.

Train cat to fight back?!

There is a question on the website which asks how a cat owner can make their cat more willing to fight back when he is bullied. The questioner says that his cat is strong but that he always runs away when under threat. He wants his cat to fight. As you can imagine all the comments question his sanity! I understand the question and can in fact sympathise but it is a poor question really because you don’t want your cat to fight both for his health and welfare and the same goes for the other cat, especially if they are both owned by you.

The answer is acceptance of a cat’s personality. To love it and appreciate it and also accommodate it because timid cats are more likely to be anxious and anxiety leads to potential health problems such as cystitis, and under-eating, perhaps, which can lead to feline hepatic lipidosis although that disease is normally associated with under eating you to another disease.

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