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Possible future problem?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
First, a lot of probably unnecessary information. As most of you know, I have a large group of cats. All are spayed/neutered and live indoors (except Leo who occasionally gets to go outside if the weather is nice). Last year, we adopted Leo, Tabitha and Spooky Bear as kittens. They are now all 1-1 1/2 years old. We adopted Spike in April. He is now 9-ish months old. This past spring we took in several pregnant strays and several litters of abandoned kittens. Of course, we couldn't let them all go so we kept seven kittens. Three females (two sisters, all 6 months old) and four males (two sets of brothers 6 months and almost 5 months old).

The "pack system" was all pretty simple for awhile. It was Leo as Alpha, then Tabitha, then Spooky Bear... all of the kittens fell somewhere underneath. As Spike got older, and Leo started to go outside more, the roles changed and Spike became Alpha, next was Leo, then Tabitha, then Spooky Bear.

Now the kittens are all getting older and are starting to test their places. I've noticed something very strange. Roxy and Sofia (sisters) have climbed to the very top of the pecking order. I let them all work out their order, and it doesn't matter to me who is boss. But I'm becoming a little bit concerned by the girls' behavior.

During feeding time I set out 12 paper plates (all of the above mentioned cats plus John's dad's 6-7 year old cat who lives with us). I put the food down and I try to send each cat to their own plate. But Roxy and Sofia will walk around and smack all of the other cats in the face until they walk away from their food and the girls get to eat it. If John and/or I have food Roxy and Sofia will chase away all of the other cats, even if one is asleep nearby the girls will run over and smack them repeatedly on the face until they run away. They also just walk up and smack someone at random, even when food is not involved.

In a way it's slightly amusing, to see the two tiniest cats here chasing away the adult cats. But I have noticed that since they've started this behavior, they've become more dominant toward John and I as well. They used to be good about getting baths, nails being trimmed, and being combed but now they fight us every step of the way. They will allow us to pet them, and they are very affectionate and love attention. But if we have to restrain them for any reason they become aggressive.

Should I just let them continue to work it out, or should I be concerned?
post #2 of 3
After all, if you are going by "pack thinking," then the humans in the house have to be on top, and you aren't doing that.

Personally, having raised both dogs and cats, I don't see the same kind of pack behavior in cats that I see in dogs. Dogs have a definite pecking order, and move into power vacuums much more readily.

Cats are different. Cats have a dominant one for food, but it's not always the same ones who would monitor other activities. It's more a matter of what they want.

Right now, the younger ones are throwing their weight around, and there isn't anyone to step in. To keep the home harmonious, we should step in. Enforce sharing at mealtimes, don't let them bully the less assertive cats, and you will have less conflict in the long run.

Right now, they don't have anyone telling them this behavior is not acceptable. So they are going to keep doing it. Sooner or later, someone is going to get frustrated and object, or become withdrawn and miserable.

As Benevolent Boss of Cat Town, we take the guns away and make sure everyone stays happy.

I just put up a post about "cat spaces" that might be interesting to you:


A lot of times, "letting them work it out" will result in a resolution we are not happy with. Head off trouble by being proactive now.
post #3 of 3
I agree with Werebear.

It would be very easy for us to allow Reagan to rule the household. However, if we just "let her go" then Whisper doesn't get enough to eat. She backs off for both of the new cats, but with Whisper, she just *needs* to be in control. We've had to step in and move her off the food bowl at times. We're going to be setting up two more as soon as we are able, with integration of the new cats and everything else that is going on.

Furthermore, I have to say that us being "on top" in terms of the pack order has helped to create something akin to harmony amongst Dozer and the two "senior" cats. If we weren't there to step in, he'd be getting clawed up *a lot*.

Cats are very defensive of their spaces. Right now, Whisper's giving us problems because our bed is *his* as far as he's concerned. We're breaking it gently that he has to share it, even "his" spot, but we're working on him with it. Before, he was the only one who wanted it. Now we have three cats who want to sleep in the bed with us
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