Bullying. It’s common in multi-cat households. We have it here – Chase and Kali will sometimes gang up on Gizmo, and Kali harasses Aria. I started looking for ways to stop this because there are days that our cats bullying each other gets really bad.
What can you do to stop your cats bullying each other?
First and foremost, if your cats aren’t spayed or neutered, get that done right away. This can prevent bullying, along with unwanted litters, yowling, and other behavior issues that arise with intact cats.
If your cats are sterilized, though, and you’re still having problems, consider how your cats might view the resources in your house. Those resources include food and water, the litter boxes, and territory. Do each of your cats have adequate territory, horizontal and vertical? You can create extra vertical territory with multiple cat trees, or even carpeted shelves on the walls. Vertical territory is very important for cats. Make sure each of your cats can get up high and away from the others. Ensure they have multiple escape routes, too. That way, nobody can trap anybody else.
Territory generally isn’t a problem in our house, even though it’s a little small for four cats. Neither is resources – we have five litter boxes around the house, and they all get fed in separate rooms on a schedule. They do have a communal water bowl but nobody chases anybody away from it.
One more thing you can do: Be sure your cats aren’t sick or injured. Cats are good at hiding pain and illness, but will swipe at someone who makes them feel worse.
So now what do we do to stop our cats bullying each other?
Well, to be honest, I haven’t been the best cat mom when it comes to interactive playtime. One of the things that playtime does is stimulate your feline friend’s instincts. Another is that it helps you bond with her. It can also tire them out so they don’t have the energy to bully each other.
Cat Behavior Associates also recommends giving each of your cats individual attention with playtime so nobody’s competing, especially if there’s only one of you to play with multiple cats. The same goes for affection: Don’t play favorites.
The best thing you can do, though, is to stop conflict between your cats as early as possible. Cats bullying each other happens when there’s conflict, and only gets worse over time. If you see one of your cats trying to stare down another, or intimidate each other—whether it’s over food and water, litter boxes, territory, or anything else—gently separate them and find a way to make it so things don’t escalate. Above all, do not yell at them or swat them. You’ll only make things worse.