Cats Bullying Each Other: How Do You Stop It?

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.

Chast Kali cats bullying each other

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.

3 Replies to “Cats Bullying Each Other: How Do You Stop It?”

  1. Maria Russell

    I have 4 cats they all get along with each other……except for Munchkin (Name does not fit). He definitely is a bully. But he’s really not trying to be mean. He doesn’t hiss or growl. But he does stalk the others and jump on their backs and wrestle. The others are the ones who his and spit when he does that. I really think he’s trying to play but he’s too rough. He also weighs 15 pounds where the others are under 10 pounds. I’ve tried everything. I give him time our and l do the aromatherapy. The latter cuts down the attacks but there’s at least one attack a day. And yes they are all fixed. Help!

    Reply
    • ourcatsworld Post author

      How’s your playtime with him? Maybe playing with him on his own, away from the others for a little bit, could help?

      Reply
  2. Aidan

    I have two cats. They are known as “the twins” because they came as an inseparable ball of matted floof with eyes barely opened and were hand-raised together, adoring each other. Phoebe was spayed as soon as she presented her butt to everyone with a wink, and Puck was neutered a month or two later. At the time, we lived with our two other cats and in a house with several more roommates and a big golden lab. When they were around a year old, we moved across the country and we tried to put them together (and sedated in a carrier. There was angry hissing and attacking from Phoebe, so we put her alone and let Puck share the extra-large carrier with Midas (RIP) while Phoebe and Girl (RIP) each had their own carriers. Both did not seem to be doing the greatest with the sedation intensity, so they didn’t get dosed for the last two days of the trip.

    Phoebe has long been a grumpy girl. Despite being affectionate and cuddly, she snaps quickly and will growl and attack if forced to vacate a spot she is enjoying, even by a friendly, gentle human. After Midas’s death (now down two cats and one best friend, and having moved again from San Diego to Seattle), the situation has become awful. She is extremely territorial not just of any and all space, but of me and my body and attention. Despite getting tons of love and play daily, and despite ample cat spaces and facilities, her aggression towards Puck has continued to grow. Seeing him enter the room or coming across him receiving attention can inspire a vicious attack. I have tried everything from separation to firm “Phoebe!” to ignoring her when she acts out, but it doesn’t improve. If I am petting him and she can also get attention from my free hand (and she prefers I look at her instead of him), the peace sometimes holds, but too often this is temporary and she chases him away before returning with the most happy, dopey, peaceful face to make biscuits and take over all of me and the queen-sized bed. Poor Puck is slinking around far too much and this doesn’t seem fair.

    Midas was a very special cat, beyond how special they all are. He was positively human in many ways, and we were bonded. He was always at my side, had a spot on the counter to sit and chat, was always under my arm with his head against my face or chest at bedtime. This was respected (if bedgrudgingly by Phoebe). Nobody is allowed on the counter now, and Phoebe is actually 100% good about that and I praise her for it (Puck gets gentle scolding and directed to get down). She seems to have poor depth perception (fell off a third-story balcony years ago thinking she was jumping onto the railing) or jump coordination, but she isn’t blind, and she tracks fast movements. She seems to be healthy. Jeff was sometimes more aggressive in general, but that doesn’t seem to be enough or recent enough to have much to do with these developments.

    I realize they will never again be so close, but how can I at least halt if not reverse this trend?

    Reply

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