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Bullying among cats

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have two cats, Momo (2 1/2) and Fitz (1 1/2). They usually get on well, without being the greatest of friends, but in peaceful coexistence (and the occasional wild chase around the flat).
However, Fitz has recently started to bully Momo. He pounces on her when she's taking a nap or minding her own business, eats her food and gradually takes over all her favourite sleeping places and toys. I'm getting more and more concerned that she doesn't feel at home anymore. Fitz probably means no harm and just wants to play, but Momo doesn't defend herself very much or even tries to put him into his place. She's also a small and skinny cat, which probably doesn't help. She just tries to avoid him as much as possible, but I want her to feel at ease in the house and to know that this is her place as well as his. I just don't want to come home one day to find that Momo has decided that she doesn't like the place anymore and gone off to find somewhere better to live!
Has anyone had a similar experience? Any advice will be appreciated!
post #2 of 10
When I had two cats I had a similiar experience. We adopted Snowball (male) as a young kitten when our resident cat, Midnight, (female, now deceased) was 4 years old. When Snowball got to the age of about 6 months, he started picking on Midnight and bullying her. The cats would fight more frequently, and Snowball would take over Midnight's favorite resting places, try to prevent her from eating and drinking, from playing with their cat toys and etc.

Snowball became the alpha cat and kept that position until Midnight's death 10 years later. IMO, I think your cats are just establishing their social order, and Fritz either is, or will become the alpha cat.
post #3 of 10
Is Fitz neutered? If not, that would explain his aggression.

If he is neutered, then I think that what Lorie described is right on target. Oftentimes when cats are struggling to determine who is alpha, you can help solve the problem by adding several perches that are relatively high off the floor. It seems that the more elevated the cat is, the more content he will be. Many animal shelters keep multiple cats in one room and are able to keep them together because they have many elevated perches for the cats to enjoy.
post #4 of 10
My Simba will sometimes give Faline the ominous eye and sometimes jump on top of her and pull out her hair. He never badly hurts her...but he does make her definitely mad, cause he wants to be "alfpha" and at the same time play-rough house and she doesn't want anything to do with it. 2 minutes later...she's content, and he's content...
I understand your concern, 'strange' behavior. Hope you find a rememdy sooon.
post #5 of 10
Ah, yes, the dominance wars.

Our Suzy was 4 in August. She came into our household with her littermate just about exactly 4 years ago. They joined the old Siamese, Nibs, who didn't take long deciding to accept them. Before Suzy was 2, Sam had disappeared, we had had several short and one longer spell boarding other peoples' cats, and then Nibs died, and Suzy was an only cat. A pretty unsettling time for her, so we weren't in a big hurry to bring in newcomers, but inevitably the pair looking for a home came to our attention and we said we'd like to take them on a trial basis, subject to Suzy's approval.

Cindy and Fawn moved in. Fawn did the negotiating with Suzy, while Cindy laid back in the weeds. There was no particular fuss, acceptance seemed certain, even if not adoration. We confirmed that Cindy and Fawn were staying.

Since then, we have been on a veritable rollercoaster with regard to feline relations. Sometimes the three have been wonderful playmates. With the youngsters, Suzy started noticing the toys again, and enjoying a spirited chase around the house. You never knew who was going to be chasing who, and it could change in a split second.

Then we had a spell during which Suzy was away more than she was home. Probably roughly concurrent with this, she and Cindy started striking sparks off each other. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out whether it was a dominance war or just Cindy being a tease (which she is) and Suzy being a martyr (which she is). Suffice to say, that, whenever Suzy was home, there was a lot of chasing, with Suzy the one being chased and doing lot of hissing and hiding. Mealtimes were particularly likely times. Doorways were particularly likely places for confrontations. We had the same fear that jbardos has expressed. We wondered if Suzy would decide there had to be a more congenial place to live. And then, there'd be a let up, and the chasing would look like fun again.

We never did decide whether it was a struggle for alpha or fun -- until lately, when we've noticed several more things.

Who is it that struts around like she owns the place? samples everyone's food and eats from whatever dish she wants, whenever she wants? generally does as she pleases, etc. Not Suzy. Not Cindy. Fawn is alpha. No contest. Suzy and Cindy have been battling for SECOND place. And that explains, too, I think, why now that Cindy has claimed it, she mostly ignores Suzy, but Suzy still hisses at her, and gives her a wide berth.

But, now, to round up this ramble, know what else we've noticed? Suzy is home. Yes, there's an occasional day when she doesn't put in an appearance, but for the most part she's around, at meal times, at bedtime, looking for attention, brushing, even occasionally a little smooch (from a NOT mushy kitty). We have puzzled a whole lot about these goings on, but have laid back in the weeds and, aside from an occasional "cool it, you two!" have let them sort it out for themselves. And, perhaps I'm talking too soon, but it seems they have. It's taken a while. But nobody was hurt. And things are pretty calm, now. Which is not to say that I expect they'll never have a spat. In the most congenial of feline families, the siblings will spat -- just like human ones. The joys of having kids -- of any species!
post #6 of 10
Rapunzel: thanks so much for your post, very interesting!

JBardos: Much sympathy coming from over here, where we're dealing with a similar 'bullying' situation! Just started a few months ago. Mozart picks on Kayla every so often (1x a day or every other day). Things done include walking up to her as she's sleeping in her round and swatting her with a paw, or chasing her around the house until she's cornered and hisses and swats. They've been relatively mild until last week, when it seems to have escalated to Mozart walking off with a big hunk o' hair from poor Kayla. It's confusing because hours after the 'bullying' they're eating side by side or sitting/sleeping near each other, and everything seems fine and calm.

I'm also trying various things graciously suggested by Pamela and Sicy (thank you guys!). Suggestions included Feliway, or vanilla under chin. Side note: we've also discussed possible 'triggers' that may bring on these episodes, so perhaps you may also observe anything different, such as changed/new furniture, etc. May not be applicable in your situation.

So far no solid results that I can see, but I'm continuing to try. I'm planning to try out Lotsocats suggestion for more levels. One thing that calms things down immediately for me is separating them when I hear it starting to escalate, and putting Mozart into 'timeout' by himself in a room.

Good luck to all of us!

Edit: I needed to clarify that in my case the behavior started up/intensified just a few months ago, and I've had all three for 1.5 years already.
post #7 of 10
Superkitty and jbardos - any updates on the "bullying" in ur feline family? I hope things have improved. Keep us posted.
post #8 of 10
I posted once before about my 1 year old, Mocha (neutered) who we thought was a feral cat that was rescued by the Humane Society, and the problem we have been having with him biting and bullying. Well, after spending 2.5 hours last night at the emergency vet office and $250.00 later, my problem has obviously escalated and boy, can I relate! Apparently, 4 or 5 days ago, Mocha once again attacked Max, our newest addition (had him 4 weeks) and bit him on the tail, unbeknownst to us. Last night, I got home and found Max with blood and pus dripping down his tail, so I bundled him up to the vet where i was told he had an abcess from a cat bite. (We know it wasn't Baubles...Mocha's reputation precedes him). Mocha is currently 1 year old, and we got him first, after the death of our Casey. Then 3 weeks later, we got Baubles (our sweetie). Baubles and Mocha would rough house all the time and you would hear the occasional screeches and hisses between them, but they have always tolerated each other. Mocha, unfortunately, has always had a biting problem, and we have done what we could to correct this. My vet feels he will eventually grow out of it???? Anyway, Mocha's latest thing is to run and attack fomr the rear...we caught him doing it to Baubles a couple of times right after we got Max, and he has totured Max pitifully whihc upsets me, because Max is not having a quality life that he should. My mom feels that there are occasionally "bad animals" that just can't be trained or anything done with them....So, it appears I need to make a decision..Mocha vs. Max.....Any suggestions, before I have to go down that road? (BTW..we have tried a myriad of things, per the books....Starting to believe that Mocha is just mean...)

Would love to hear suggestions/comments....
post #9 of 10
I'm glad I came & read this becuase this is the first time in my life I've had 2 cats & it seems like Jordan is always Bullying Levi. Sure sometimes it's obvious they are just playing, but often Jordan will take away what ever toy Levi is playing with. I've tried to buy 2 of everything, but just like human kids they always both want the same thing. Also, I've noticed when I'm petting Levi, Jordan seems to always try to get my attention. It could just be a jealousy thing & they've only been with me a week & 1/2. They've only lived together about 2 1/2 weeks so I think they just have a lot to work out, but this post made me feel better about it. I was worried that Levi would be upset & feel neglected.
post #10 of 10
Wow, it's so amazing how common this problem is! Sheesh, I thought I had it hard with my 3 girls!
I want to add my way of handling the situation. I hiss and stare at the bully! I become the alpha cat.QT still goes after the other two, but it is rare now. The other two even run and hide behind me for protection it seems.
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