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Deciding who the Alpha cat is.....

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Just wondering, because I'm tempted to try and keep my older cat "king of the heap".

He's soooo laid back.

Today I put them together to eat breakfast - this was the very first time I did this. KiKi allowed one of the kittens (Phoebe) to eat from the same dish as his -- (she left her food plate for his food plate) -- he even backed off and just watched her!

Previous to this event, I had to put KiKi back at his food plate because he was more interested in investigating the place the kittens are staying (the "nursery") than eating.

Maybe KiKi was so delighted to be with them he was more interested in them than he was with eating or telling the little girl, "NO, that was HIS food" ?

They haven't had very much "together" time because I've been letting the kittens grow before I let them begin to establish who's the king, or queen.

I don't want them to take advantage of KiKi, my lover guy - they might have stronger tendencies to be the "Top Cat" because they haven't been altered yet?

So, the Q's:

1. Can you influence the choice of who the "Top Cat" is?

2. Should you even try to influence the choice?

3. If you should NOT try, then, what might be the possible ramifications if you DO try to influence the "natural order" of things?

4. Will altering (neuter/spay) influence the "selection process" of who the "Top Cat" is?

(The kittens are going to the vet on Monday (7/24) - to get their second set of shots - and, I'll be scheduling their surgery, hopefully the vet will be able to do it on the 28th (7/28/06), they'll be 4 months.

I very interested in your comments.
Thanks,
Gloria
post #2 of 13
With cats there is only a loose hierachy and it changes from day to day. For the most part, unlike a dog pack, cats really don't enforce the "king" position.

So as long as you make sure the everyone is getting enough food and there is no physical fighting, I'd just leave them alone. If they want to assert themselves they will.

The only "rules" are unneutered males are top, unspayed females are 2nd (sometimes top) and the neutered males/females are at the bottom - other then that, its free
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45
With cats there is only a loose hierachy and it changes from day to day. For the most part, unlike a dog pack, cats really don't enforce the "king" position.

So as long as you make sure the everyone is getting enough food and there is no physical fighting, I'd just leave them alone. If they want to assert themselves they will.

The only "rules" are unneutered males are top, unspayed females are 2nd (sometimes top) and the neutered males/females are at the bottom - other then that, its free


Where resources are unlimited, as is the case for most house cats, there's really little to compete about. Some cats have dominant personalities and may constantly challenge others to favoured sleeping places etc. but quite often it's hard to tell which one is actually the boss. It can vary from circumstance to circumstance. I couldn't have told you who was boss between Jaffa and Magpie (bridge baby and Jaffa's littermate).

I think it's a bad idea to try and influence it yourself. They need to sort it out amongst themselves and if there is an issue between them and you interfere you are just prolonging the adjustment period. I'd really like to intervene between Jaffa and Mosi as Mosi is quite a dominant personality and is very likely to end up more dominant than Jaffa (who's 9) when he's fully grown (he's 7 months now), but they need to settle things between themselves.
post #4 of 13
The fact that you said you want to keep your eldest cats as alpha an then the next line you said he is soooo laid back makes me think he would most likely NOT be alpha male...
post #5 of 13
hi Gloria!

JMO, but;

1) sometimes, by spay/neutering
2) no
3) they may interpret your 'signals' as being aggressive and wonder just what "your" problem is! (you're already topcat)
4) Urban's answer on rank covers the basics, I think.

as always, there are exceptions. I just haven't seen any!
post #6 of 13
I think you cause problems by trying to influence who is topcat. Plus, for cats, sometimes they can be alpha about different things. So maybe Kiki could care less who eats first, but when it comes to sitting in his favorite window, he will be topcat. If you try to change the food dynamic, you will confuse everyone, including Kiki.

I had a tortie foster kitty named Sugartoes who took over as alpha cat. It didn't seem fair, since Festie has been here since she was born, and Garfield shortly after. But there were never any fights that I saw. Just me noticing that Sugartoes got to eat first, and got to sit in the bathroom window (a prime kitty spot). I figured it was cat business, and so long as no one got hurt, and they all thought it was fair, it worked for me.
post #7 of 13
I have the big household with a lot of males. Stumpy has been ruling the house for over 8 years now, but now that he is both 10 years old and has been ill of late, the lesser cats are beginning to realign themselves to Spanky (age 3). They still don't question Stumpy, they now also honor Spanky.

My husband insists on trying to keep Stumpy on top. He probably has a slight influence on this simply by the fact that Stumpy is his favorite male cat of the household and gets preferential placement on his lap. He also feeds Stumpy first - I know this doesn't carry weight with cats and it is applicable to dogs, but I don't tell him otherwise and he thinks he is doing him right. Ssshhhh, don't tell him and lets keep that our little secret.

In any group of cats, there will be some that will show stronger leadership traits than others. I don't see these as always being dominance traits, as the ones that have the highest place in the house are usually the ones that are the most tolerant and respectful of others. They win their leadership roles thru being fair to all, yet still not taking any flack from them.

If you try to intervene in their natural order, the ones that are natural leaders or the ones that would like to be leaders can and will start a "marking" war. They start to feel threatened and will reinforce their territorial boundaries by proclaiming where those boundaries are. It's not worth it IMHO.

Frankly, I've never had an unneutered cat in my house long enough to figure out if there is any effect on their natural order.
post #8 of 13
I maintained order and a good transition by assisiting my alpha male maintain. I feed him first, he gets loved and spoken to first. The new kitten (a year in a few weeks) sometimes gets into skuffs with alfa and no. 2 cat, but they quickly put him in his place. I think they start out playing and then someone gets mad. He recognizes that they have top billing. He will now groom spike which is what no. 2 cat does to both of them. hmm. Maybe no. 2 cat is now no. 3 cat, not sure, but we are all getting along and everyone waits their turn for food. They just understand the order, and never try to jump the line.
post #9 of 13
"In any group of cats, there will be some that will show stronger leadership traits than others. I don't see these as always being dominance traits, as the ones that have the highest place in the house are usually the ones that are the most tolerant and respectful of others. They win their leadership roles thru being fair to all, yet still not taking any flack from them."


LOL in my house my alpha queen does not show any respect for ANYTHing she just rules and everything else must get out of her way or they will get in trouble
post #10 of 13
I don't see any one of our cats as being the boss at all times, they all act differently at different things. When a stranger comes in the house Angel will be the first to check the stranger out, Tuffy will push the others out of the way for a food he really likes or if I roll a toy across the floor while they are in a playfull mood he will be the first to go after it. If Panther wants to sleep where one of the others already is he will just bully his way in the spot and take it away.

They all seem to know each other well enough to know how the others will react at different things, so they hardly ever get into any hissing and spitting matches with each other, if they do its over in a second because the one getting hissed and spit at will just walk away.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Just a note of thanks to all those kind souls who have shared your experiences and knowledge regarding my question.

This is what I understand has been said:

1. Household cats, and especially "inside" cats -- with all the basic necessities of life -- probably don't exhibit the same "dominant" personalities as cats left to fend for themselves.

2. The hierarchy is "fluid", and depends on different things, and even can vary from day-to-day.

3. If left unaltered, the un-neutered male would be most assertive, then in 2nd place the un-spayed female. The altered kids get along a lot better.

4. It's probably a bad idea to try and influence the hierarchy - even if you could, and as TunaQueen says, I'm already the top cat. :-)

Note: to Jen - The fact that you said you want to keep your eldest cats as alpha an then the next line you said he is soooo laid back makes me think he would most likely NOT be alpha male... yep - I wanted to help him because I recognized that the other kids may take advantage of his "laid back" personality. I've since "let go" of that idea after reading the other posts ---- especially ...

5. ... the ones that said that the cat that has the "highest place" is the one that has won his/her leadership role by being respectful, and tolerant of the other cats, yet still hold their ground when necessary. I liked that! That's a leader!

So, to GoldenKitty45, urbantigers, Jen, TunaQueen, Beckiboo, Momofmany, gailuvscats, chausiefan, and Tom W - a BIG THANK YOU for each of your contributions!

gailuvscats - sounds like your cats are trying to comply with your "rules", but, they have some ideas of their own

GoldenKitty45 - for reminding me these are cats - and they don't behave with the "pack" dog mentality. Also - making sure they all have enough food will help prevent a lot of skirmishes

ubantigers, Momofmany, chausiefan, and Tom W - for reinforcing the info that the hierarchy is fluid, and can even vary from day to day - knowing about that will keep me from "stressing out"

Beckiboo - ya' know, I bet that little Phoebe will, at the very least, hold her own - she's a real character!

I appreciated that you shared your wisdom, experience, and thoughts regarding this topic.

Thanks everyone,
Gloria
post #12 of 13
Tuffy was a sick stray cat when I got him about a year ago, so he had to fend for himself the best he could outside on his own. I can see a big difference in the way Tuffy acts from our other cats that have always been indoor cats.

Its almost like Tuffy knows how lucky he is to now have a good home and is very close to me for taking him in and helping him get well again. He still has problems but we are working on them.

The others are almost spoiled because they never had to hunt to feed themselves or watch out for loose dogs or mean people or whatever else they might have to deal with out on there own.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom W
Tuffy was a sick stray cat when I got him about a year ago, so he had to fend for himself the best he could outside on his own. I can see a big difference in the way Tuffy acts from our other cats that have always been indoor cats.

Its almost like Tuffy knows how lucky he is to now have a good home and is very close to me for taking him in and helping him get well again. He still has problems but we are working on them.

The others are almost spoiled because they never had to hunt to feed themselves or watch out for loose dogs or mean people or whatever else they might have to deal with out on there own.
Tom, your post is a good example of what good lovin' will do with a creature that was "lost" and now is "found". It's sure a cruel world out there, and Tuffy - if he could talk - would probably tell you some terrible things that happen to him before you saved him.

well, I'm happy for Tuffy because his "problems" will become a distant memory with your help.

Gloria
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