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Isn't it normal to have a hierarchy in a multi-cat household

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
In my house there is a very set pecking order. It became very obvious when Jordan was sick last week. It got the point where Levi would not eat unless I sat Jordan down, put a bowl of food in front of him (even though he wouldn't eat it), then fed Isaac then Levi. That's the order they eat in. I didn't do it, that's just they way it's been, the first bowl I put down Jordan goes for, then Isaac, then levi. I was talking to someone about it and she said "You really need to get rid of that pecking order". My question is do I? I thought this was natural behavior for cats that live together.
post #2 of 12
It's funny you bring that up, I've recently engaged a licensed animal behaviorist to help me out with *my* hierarchical issues -- basically, Cassie was the "only child" for over 3 years, we brought in Napoleon, obviously socialized with everything under the sun. He worships her and follows her everywhere...we thought it was cute at first, till he started ambushing her. For example, he would wake from a dead sleep if she was walking outside of the room he was in or trying to leave it. He would "survey" her, leap off wherever and then the ultiamte fight would break out. I was concerned more for Cassie because she is not only an uptight kitty but she's had a lot of trauma in her short life. When I spoke to the behaviorist last night, he told me that it sounds like a classic case of one cat trying to one-up the other...but Cassie is standing her ground by fighting back, good thing BUT she is also reluctant to be like, "I'm in charge." She expects things to just work out naturally.

So the pecking order is important for the cats to maintain and for the "owner" to recognize. It is extremely natural and important for everyone involved to have a happy kitty environment
post #3 of 12
Every multi-cat colony or household has an alpha cat and a pecking order. That can get upset with a new addition, who might want to take over at some point in the heirarchy. And owners should recognise it and not upset the cats by trying to change it. I have an interesting situation here - Ellie was our alpha cat but following a very traumatic experience being mauled by dogs she went into shock and lost all her self-confidence, including her alpha behaviour. The vet said she might recover it or might not. She is still not trying to be alpha but the others defer to her anyway, and neither has tried to take over, so I am hoping she will get her old self back.
post #4 of 12
Cat relationships are interesting. My oldest, Katie, was clearly the top cat after I brought Willy (RIP) home. They were about a year apart and he always seemed rather intimidated by her. Katie was six and Gracie a tiny kitten when I adopted her. Despite the age difference and Katie's established place in the house they've always seemed to be on pretty equal ground. I think this is because Gracie was such a confident kitten and never showed any fear of Katie. When I adopted Peter, I figured Katie would have the hardest time adjusting to a new cat, but they bonded pretty quickly. Katie has been pretty laid back about the whole thing. Gracie, on the other hand, is really emerging as the alpha cat, making it clear to Pete she's the one in charge. Now that he's older though, Pete is starting to stand up to her and she's been backing down.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
OK, thankyou, that's what I thought. I've never changed the order they are fed in, I let them determine that & then I follow what they want. When Jordan was sick & Levi didn't want to eat I had to think about why. Levi is low man on the totem pole so to say, but he doesn't seem to mind (and frankly I tend to baby him because of it, nothing serious just extra love). After a day or two it dawned on me what was going on. Levi was unhappy about the change in routine. Jordan wasn't getting fed at the same time as them because he wouldn't eat his dry food. Well I'm sure in Levi's head the alpha didn't eat so he couldn't eat.
post #6 of 12
How long does it take for a hierarchy to be developped anyway?
post #7 of 12
Originally Posted by home.slice
How long does it take for a hierarchy to be developped anyway?
Petra and I would like to know the answer to this too.... as it seems that Nym (13 yr. old Siamese male altered Cat) and Fay(5 yr old mixed breed altered female) seems to be trying to set theirs up...

They get along fine during the day actually, but at night around 6 to 7 pm the hunt begins.... Atleast on Nyms part...

He ambushes her, the hissing and growling starts and they basically are unhappy and growly.... and Nym is constantly walking up behind her and sniffing her butt, and today he nipped her when he did it (She really swatted him too) and then chased her....

They do settle down after awhile, but the hour or two that this goes on is a bit on the stressful side for everyone....

post #8 of 12
Originally Posted by jennyranson
Every multi-cat colony or household has an alpha cat and a pecking order.
Ha ha....but figuring it out is another thing. Every one of my three cats displays typical dominance behaviors. So which one is it? I give up. It seems to change daily. Hourly.

I'm sure they know....but they're not telling.
post #9 of 12
My three boys definitely have a heirarchy going on but its confusing sometimes who's really the big bad kitty at the top. Mr. Gray and Hector seem to take turns depending on the time of day and what they're doing. Jacques is for sure the lowest on the totem pole though and I'm starting to feel badly for him when its feeding time because the other two won't let him have first dibs on his food.
I noticed that for a good week Jacques would come running along with the others when its food time but then would walk away without even sniffing his bowl. I tried picking him up and putting him by his food and petting him but you know the saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." I was confused and curious so I stuck kind of close for a while cleaning up outside the room and noticed that about a minute after I walked away Hector went over to Jacque's bowl and started eating. Then he went back to his own bowl and Mr. Gray walked over to it. After they were done eating and had gone to my bedroom Jacques came back and ate what meager remains were left in his bowl then went through the other two's food. I'd been trying to stop this but after reading everyone's responses I'm wondering if I should leave them be. I'm just afraid he's not getting enough to eat.
I didn't mean to take over the thread but I don't want to screw up the way my boys lead their lives ! Sorry!
post #10 of 12
In my 4-cat household, there is a definite heirarchy as well. I have 2 girls and 2 boys. My oldest male cat, Rupert, "thinks" he is the dominant one who rules the household. He always picks on my little girl, Sophie. She never fights back and is usually very edgy whenever he is in the same room with her. My oldest female, Clementine, is the true alpha cat. She rarely displays her dominance though. She is a very large Main Coon, so she is very easygoing, but if Rupert crosses her, gets in her way, or makes her upset in ANY way whatsoever, she will hiss and swat!! He immediately backs off and is scared of her. My youngest male just goes with the flow and does not care at all who is in charge! I think it is cute that Clementine "lets" Rupert pretend he is the king of the castle!
post #11 of 12
Whether or not you can change it is a mystery. They have a pecking order but more loose then a dog pack. Yours seems a bit unusual and extreme but natural for them.

I kinda agree on the lady's comment about changing it but don't have a solution. If one cat dies, then the order will have to change but you may wind up with problems if the one cat doesn't eat cause the older one is not there.

Why don't you feed them all together? Or feed in different spots/rooms so they don't know who is eating when?

I know in my group of pedigree and mixed breeds there were certain 'top cats" who mostly remained there, but never any fights over food - mainly sleeping places...lol

My littlest female was top cat for awhile (she was also unspayed). My oldest who was spayed and top cat for a long while, was upset. They tolerated each other but were never friends. Another time I had a Russian blue female who hated any female cat in the house, but would allow any male to join the "family" - this was when she was breeding and even after being spayed.

My mixed breed (first cat) was a big solid 14 lb blue tabby/white who was the most loving cat I've owned. However, he was also the boss cat and simply sat on top of any lesser cats - never physically fought anyone, but they knew it. My Russian Blue female was 2nd in command - she bossed everyone else, but Mitten - Mitten used to simply sit or lay on top of her as a kitten and he was the only one she ever respected!
post #12 of 12
I don't think you need to. I think my desexed male thinks he's top but really we don't really have one, even my entire male doesn't think he owns the place.
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