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How to determine who the alpha is ?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

I've seen many posts that mention a specific cat in the household being the "alpha" cat and it's gotten me to thinking ... yes I know, dangerous

How can you tell who the "alpha" cat is ? Is it obvious ? None of my girls seems to dominate and maybe that's because I try to treat them equally. Sparkles is our oldest girl but she usually defers to the youngsters when treats are handed out. She often hangs back until the other 3 have stuffed themselves. Princess is our second oldest and she spends 95% of her time upstairs in the bedroom. She will sometimes swat the youngsters if they come too close but they don't seem to defer to her. Tigger and Pooh are sisters and they spend most of their time downstairs amongst us humans and the dogs. Neither seems to be dominant.

Can it be that there is no alpha or is it just a very subtle thing sometimes ? I'm just curious more than anything else so I'd be interested in your theories.

Our dogs are a different story. Our youngest, Hailey, is clearly the alpha. Our male, Blackjack, is a total wimp (the trainer said he has "issues" .. maybe because somebody dumped him in a dumpster ) and Keno is just a marshmallow that lives for treats
post #2 of 16
There might just not be an alpha cat in your case. I think the "alpha cat" thing came from colony of cats that live outside, or in barns, and have sort of a leader.

I personally think Princess might be your Alpha cat...She sounds like she might just be the one that rules. They all listen to her, and stay away from her, because she's made her point clear.

But you might just not have an alpha cat. Which isnt a big thing anyway.
post #3 of 16
If you have more than one cat, you will have an alpha cat. They eat first, they run others out of the way of treats and pets, they choose the highest spot in your house to sleep, they can even get aggressive. You can have more than one alpha cat at a time, but it is up to them to figure out between them which cat is indeed alpha
post #4 of 16
I was wondering the same thing.

Maverick lets Jupiter eat first but she also disciplines him and she is first for treats.

Though Jupiter will push Mav out of the way of food, he is happy to share with her if she wants some and will walk away if she stands her ground.

Jupiter scent marks (by rubbing his cheeks on things) more than Mav so i think he might be the alpha?
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
If you have more than one cat, you will have an alpha cat. They eat first, they run others out of the way of treats and pets, they choose the highest spot in your house to sleep, they can even get aggressive. You can have more than one alpha cat at a time, but it is up to them to figure out between them which cat is indeed alpha
post #6 of 16
My situation is also so confusing when trying to figure this out. Honestly I don't think the cats have figured it out either. Autumn growls at Meeka if she gets to near but will usually run away. Meeka is always coming up to her but never threatens her physically. They rarely play and if they do chase it usually ends up with a hissy fit from Autumn.

Hope is physically dominated by Meeka as Meeka will grab her scruff. However, when Hope finds food she likes she will growl and litterally take her paw and push Meeka's head out of her way.

Meeka can be pretty rough over her food in the end though. She will grab it and run off with it if she has to. But will occasionally defer to Hope. Autumn always waits for the noisy kittens to be out of the way before eating her food.

They all take turns sleeping at the top perch.

My conclusion:
Autumn is currently the Alpha. Hope is submissive to physical signs of dominance. Meeka is still young and is not afraid of Autumn. Eventually I think seh will take over teh role of Alpha when shes full-grown. Autumn is the oldest and lived here longer so she naturally kept the top-cat role but I think it will only be temporary. Meeka fears little in her home territory.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
If you have more than one cat, you will have an alpha cat. They eat first, they run others out of the way of treats and pets, they choose the highest spot in your house to sleep, they can even get aggressive. You can have more than one alpha cat at a time, but it is up to them to figure out between them which cat is indeed alpha
The lines blurr sometimes in my house, but when it comes right down to it, Jordan is alpha. He is always the first to eat. They set up the pecking order, but I figured it out by placing food bowls on the floor one at a time. The first food is ALWAYS Jordan's, then Isaac, then Maggie & last is Levi.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rang_27
The lines blurr sometimes in my house, but when it comes right down to it, Jordan is alpha. He is always the first to eat. They set up the pecking order, but I figured it out by placing food bowls on the floor one at a time. The first food is ALWAYS Jordan's, then Isaac, then Maggie & last is Levi.
well, now i'm confused about mine! Cable is my food hog, but since Pixel's not much for wet food, i can't really use that criteria...they take turns on the top perch - usually Pixel's up there in the mornings - but she's such a lap cat that she's usually sitting with me. Pixel also washes Cable more than Cable washes her. hardly anyone washes Java...last evening, Java & Cable were sitting with me, & Pixel wanted to join us. for some reason, Java decided that was not ok, & batted at Pixel with her paw. Pixel just sort of looked at her like ::censor::censor::censor:: but when Java did it again, Pixel backed down. she tends to avoid interactions with Java for the most part, but did lick her face the other day, & will touch noses with her. i think Java's trying to become alpha, but she's not succeeding with Cable. Cable will still run her off from the food bowl sometimes.
post #9 of 16
I've read in cat behavior that "alpha" is a loose thing with cats - the hierarchy changes more often then in a dog pack. Most alpha's are unspayed/unneutered cats. If all of them are fixed, the alpha usually changes more often. One week it might be the oldest female, the next week middle male, etc.

Our outside cats - the grandmother is the alpha one, but the 2 neutered grand sons will sometimes respect her, sometimes not. They usually back down from her about 80% of the time. She is the alpha as she's driven off every female offspring (her daughters) and either chased them to the road to be killed or just ran them off.

She's one of the few very dominate cats I've known. She'd run off whole males if she chooses!

BTW all of our outside cats are now neutered/spayed
post #10 of 16
We currently have six alphas in the group. it is interesting to sit back and watch the dynamics when there is a challenge going on. Currently, Prowler sits at the head but I suspect soon Matuese will take over.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45
Our outside cats - the grandmother is the alpha one, but the 2 neutered grand sons will sometimes respect her, sometimes not. They usually back down from her about 80% of the time. She is the alpha as she's driven off every female offspring (her daughters) and either chased them to the road to be killed or just ran them off.
Seems like it would have been much better for them to re-homed rather than run over.
post #12 of 16
With ours it is a toss up between Bumper and Magnum - the other two will always back down to them, Boomer will kill bugs and give them to Bumoer to eat. But they all also look after Bumps and treat him like a baby at the same time.

Generally they will all eat together because there are four bowls poured at the same time - but Bumper and Mags will decide which bowl they want more and simply move the other cat from it.

The problem comes down to when Magnum and Bumper fight over the last treat/which food bowl/ which bed to sleep on etc... then its hiss mania
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one confused ! I love reading the descriptions of the dynamics going on in everyone else's house ! I'm not concerned that there's no clear alpha but I was rather curious. Now that I think about it my Pooh has some submissiveness in her but she will run you over to get to the wet food bowl first in the morning She and Tigger play all the time but then they're sisters and grew up together. Tigger will occasionally try to play with Princess. Sparkles tends to sit there with a haughty look on her face. She may just be a subtle alpha !
post #14 of 16
In a house with six cats I have noticed that being *alpha* is subject to what room they are in and depending also on exactly what is going on. We have a cat tree that goes to the ceiling and most generally one of two cats (sometimes three) will be sleeping in the top hammock. So as far as the cat tree goes most generally the silver mau will win out if he wants to occupy the top hammock, but not always as the female pixie-bob is sometimes not willing to give it up. During the daytime our bed belongs to the oldest cat (persian/siamese mix). When it comes time to eat the maine coon is in charge. No matter what room they are in it seems to rotate WHO is in charge depending on the time of the day or night. I'm sure they have it all worked out amongst themselves and I am just thank-ful that there isn't to much fussing between them.
post #15 of 16
I have been trying to figure this out too! I have 4 cats. Zakk was first, and Rocky came along about 6 mos later. Zakk is definitely the most aggresive cat when it comes to food. He will always be fed first- he insists on it. He jumps on the counter when food comes and eats it before it even gets out of the can. He has subtle and not so subtle ways of telling me he his hungry- it involves grabbing my leg! When Rocky and he wrestle however- Zakk always lays on his back and fights him off that way. Zakk is 3 pounds lighter but in better health.
Since we added two kittens to mix it has been odd. Cookie is all about his food and will eat no matter what. Suzie is very shy and skittish and runs away if she is spooked. Cookie and Rocky wrestle a lot, and Cookie usually loses as he is too small. Zakk will just extend claws at the kittens if he feels either kitten gets in his way. Suzie doesn't seem to care about her hierarchy- she is definately the low one on the totem pole and also very small! Cookie seems like he will be a big boy- at barely 6 mos he is 7.25 pounds and has a long tale. So I think the hierarchy is this: Zakk, Rocky, Cookie, Suzie, but Cookie could eventually be #2.
post #16 of 16
Kai, we live on a farm and have 5 outside barn cats who are pretty friendly. So it was not a matter of re-homing them. We wanted the cats. But grandma didn't like females. We learn this over time. She's chase them but they would always return soon or later.

This last year we came to the conclusion that the missing cats just didn't chase a mouse or ground squirrel in the road - not when the brothers were excellant hunters and stayed in the barn or near the house. We don't know for sure if she ran the females into the road, but its odd that they were the only ones killed on the road.

We tried to keep 5 cats on the property. If we needed more, we'd let one of the females have a litter and keep a kitten or two for replacement (find homes for the rest). But after that litter the female would be spayed.

That's why I insisted that Ling Ling become an inside kitty as she eventually will be a HHP show kitty. And I didn't want grandma to "kill" her! Grandma didn't have a problem letting the males hang around - only the females. We only have 3 cats now and don't plan on any more as we will be moving. The 3 outside are all neutered/spayed and we will find homes for them when we have to move. We can only take one cat and one dog with us.
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