Cats Bullying Each Other: How Do You Stop It?

Bullying. It’s common in multi-cat households. We have it here – Chase and Kali will sometimes gang up on Gizmo, and Kali harasses Aria. I started looking for ways to stop this because there are days that our cats bullying each other gets really bad.

What can you do to stop your cats bullying each other?

First and foremost, if your cats aren’t spayed or neutered, get that done right away. This can prevent bullying, along with unwanted litters, yowling, and other behavior issues that arise with intact cats.

If your cats are sterilized, though, and you’re still having problems, consider how your cats might view the resources in your house. Those resources include food and water, the litter boxes, and territory. Do each of your cats have adequate territory, horizontal and vertical? You can create extra vertical territory with multiple cat trees, or even carpeted shelves on the walls. Vertical territory is very important for cats. Make sure each of your cats can get up high and away from the others. Ensure they have multiple escape routes, too. That way, nobody can trap anybody else.

Territory generally isn’t a problem in our house, even though it’s a little small for four cats. Neither is resources – we have five litter boxes around the house, and they all get fed in separate rooms on a schedule. They do have a communal water bowl but nobody chases anybody away from it.

One more thing you can do: Be sure your cats aren’t sick or injured. Cats are good at hiding pain and illness, but will swipe at someone who makes them feel worse.

So now what do we do to stop our cats bullying each other?

Well, to be honest, I haven’t been the best cat mom when it comes to interactive playtime. One of the things that playtime does is stimulate your feline friend’s instincts. Another is that it helps you bond with her. It can also tire them out so they don’t have the energy to bully each other.

Cat Behavior Associates also recommends giving each of your cats individual attention with playtime so nobody’s competing, especially if there’s only one of you to play with multiple cats. The same goes for affection: Don’t play favorites.

The best thing you can do, though, is to stop conflict between your cats as early as possible. Cats bullying each other happens when there’s conflict, and only gets worse over time. If you see one of your cats trying to stare down another, or intimidate each other—whether it’s over food and water, litter boxes, territory, or anything else—gently separate them and find a way to make it so things don’t escalate. Above all, do not yell at them or swat them. You’ll only make things worse.

Cat love bites: Why on EARTH do cats do that?

You’ve been there before. You’re with your beloved feline friend, and she’s happily purring away while you pet her and scratch her in all her favorite spots. Maybe you’re holding her, if she likes that. Then out of nowhere, she nips you. Not hard – she doesn’t break skin and it probably doesn’t even hurt, but you suddenly feel little teeth on you. Cat love bites are perplexing – why do cats do that?

Cat love bites are a form of communication

Kali will lightly bite both of us, but oftentimes it’s just a tiny little nip when we’re petting her and cuddling her. Sometimes, when I hold her and she’s happy and purring, she’ll put her tiny needle teeth on my shoulder. She gives me a love bite.

Cat love bites may happen because your cat is feeling over-excited or over-stimulated, but it could also be because she feels a strong bond with you. Cats don’t communicate with us the way we communicate with each other. That little nip you get in a moment of affection is her way of saying she loves you.

We’ve figured out that she uses bites to communicate any number of things, including telling us when she wants more rubbing, when she’s done, when she wants us to feed her, and when she’s just feeling frisky. Sometimes we can tell it’s because she’s getting annoyed; she’s usually also giving us other cues, like twitching the tip of her tail. This particular type of bite is caused by petting-induced aggression, which you can read more about here.

Not all cat bites are love bites, though

There’s one thing you should remember if your cat is biting you: You have to determine the cause. That means paying attention to her body language, and her purring and/or vocalizing. What does your cat do when she’s at her happiest, and how does that compare to when she’s annoyed? Cat love bites can be difficult to distinguish from other bites. However, if her bites are at all aggressive, let her go so she can calm down.

But if her behavior indicates that her little nips are, in fact, just cat love bites, and she’s not hurting you at all, then she’s saying to you, “I love you!”

Watch Kali solve this ‘irritating’ problem

Kali and Chase both like the shelves in one of the bedrooms, but they don’t necessarily like to be up there at the same time. And when one is “trapped” by the other, they’re faced with a choice: Wait it out, or find an alternative way down. Now, Gizmo has jumped from that shelf to the bed a number of times, but Kali’s never done it before. She took her time surveying, which gave me time to pull out my phone, and then she just sucked it up and jumped. Watch below:

Cats Eating In My House Results in ‘Kali Chaos Hour’

This is probably an odd story to put here, but it’s interesting, at least to me. One of our cats, Kali, has this really fun habit of going absolutely crazy after she’s done eating. Yesterday, she tore into the bedroom, tried to jump on a shelf above my head, didn’t quite make it, and knocked absolutely everything over as she came back down (she’s fine). This is normal for her after eating, and we call it “Kali chaos hour,” but what is the deal? Is it possible all of our cats eating causes this?

Why would our cats eating end up in ‘Kali chaos hour?’

Well, first off, cats were born to hunt in the wild. Quiet, sedate mealtimes aren’t really hardwired into our furry feline friends. Cats eating small prey multiple times a day is far more natural to them because this is actually how they hunt. They fake utter disinterest, and then suddenly explode after their prey.

That may not be the only reason cats do this; however, Kali is a little stick of dynamite. I’ve often wondered if she’s got stored up energy from her afternoons and full nights of cuddling and sleeping. We feed our cats fairly soon after we get up, and then again fairly close to when we go to bed. I think that Kali gets hungry, but stores all her energy up until she eats.

After she eats, she needs an outlet for all that bottled up energy.

Our cats eating might actually help Kali release energy

It’s a little strange, because our cats eating at all the same times is the norm in this house. Kali, however, is the only one who runs around this way almost as soon as she’s finished (how does she not get a cramp?). Even her brother, Chase, who often has just as much energy, doesn’t tear through the house the way she does.

It’s like our cats eating is just a means to an end for everyone except her. Then again, she and Chase didn’t have a normal start to their lives (they were bottle babies; we believe their mother was killed), so should I really be surprised? Probably not. “Kali chaos hour” will reign until her final days (which we hope are far, far in the future).

The butt wiggle: Why do cats do this before they pounce?

We’ve all seen our cats do it: They crouch down very low, zero in on their prey, whatever it is, then wiggle their butts right before launching themselves into the air and pouncing. It’s so cute, and so hilarious, that nobody can really get enough of it. What is that, though? Why do cats do the butt wiggle right before they pounce?

The butt wiggle has to do with hunting behavior

There’s an actual reason for this that has to do with how cats hunt. Yes, they’re stealthy hunters, but one would think that wiggling their butts like that would belie their position and scare away their prey. However, you have definitely seen how they launch themselves – they must be properly grounded and balanced in order to launch successfully.

Enter the butt wiggle. This helps your kitty get her back feet in the exact position she needs for that launch. It’s rather like the way an athlete will position his or her feet right before jumping, taking off in a sprint, diving, etc.

Watch below (and don’t drink anything beforehand):

Big cats do the butt wiggle, too

In the wild, the big cousins of our furry feline friends—lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, etc.—actually dig their feet into the ground a bit for leverage before launching after their prey. The wiggle of a big cat is likely much slower than that of your little cat, but it’s still there, and it’s done for the same reason.

In our house, all four cats do the butt wiggle before launching themselves after their own “prey,” which is usually a toy attached to a string, which is attached to a stick. They do it to varying degrees; Chase will actually stop and start his wiggling, as will Kali. Gizmo‘s is very brief, and Aria‘s seems to last forever.

We love watching all of them do it.

If you’d like to see more of the butt wiggle, click here. Buzzfeed has a great compilation of feline butt wiggle .gifs.

When Cats Amuse Themselves

Experts talk a lot about the need for interactive playtime, which is when you play with your cats using toys. Waving a wand around, or rolling a small ball across the floor, are great ways to play with your cat, and help enrich his life. However, cats amuse themselves, too, and watching cats amuse themselves is, well, amusing. It can also provide a different type of enrichment for your cat.

I have no idea about anybody reading this blog, but I love watching my cats amuse themselves. To me, it’s hilarious. They still get their interactive playtime, but all four of them are capable of finding something with which to amuse themselves. Sometimes, their antics are the best thing for me when I’m feeling low, because they’re so silly about their personal playtime that I can’t help but laugh.

Watch Chase quietly amuse himself with the little foam ball off a microphone boom below:

Cats amuse themselves because they have imagination

It’s amazing the imagination that pets have, and how easily cats amuse themselves. Linda Cole, writing on Canidae, not only swears that her cats spy on her neighbors (I’m pretty sure mine do, too), but she also says that one of her cats would take the end of a new roll of toilet paper and wind it around the house. She always managed to do that without tearing it, but since she’d wind it around the legs of tables and chairs, that must have been so much fun to clean up.

Sometimes I’ll find Kali up on top of the refrigerator when there’s a bug crawling on the kitchen light. She never jumps for it (I think she knows she can’t make it), but she’ll sit there until she’s sure the bug is gone. I’ve seen her sit up there, as straight and alert as possible, for an hour before she was sure the bug was gone.

Cats will always need interactive playtime; it’s never a good idea to assume that they can always amuse themselves. But when you’re lucky enough to see cats amuse themselves, it’s a treat for both you and them.

When Cats Sleep With You, You WILL Wind Up In Strange Positions

Do your cats sleep with you? I know some of mine do, and it’s usually Chase. Sometimes, I have Chase and Kali, and sometimes I have just Kali. Both of them usually like to sleep near my feet, but every so often, they’ll insist on sleeping in other places, like against my side, or up by my elbows, or on my back. Sometimes, they figure out how to take up an entire king sized bed.

When cats sleep with you, they can force you into all sorts of interesting positions

When cats sleep with you, you’re really, actually, sharing their bed. Not the other way around. There are some positions you have to get used to unless you think you’re going to keep your cats out at night. Now, for some people, that’s possible. For many of us, it means sleepless nights with the cats either banging on the door or meowing loudly and piteously nonstop.

With that said, The Huffington Post has an illustrated article depicting 10 sleeping positions that many of us cat parents know (all too well). I won’t list all of them here, but I will talk about the ones I deal with on a nearly nightly basis.

The Creep

One of the more common positions, when cats sleep with you, is called “The Creep,” and it’s so named for a reason. “The Creep” is when your cat climbs up on your chest, and stares at you while you’re trying to sleep. It’s creepy, in that adorable way that felines are so capable of.

This is a position I’m very familiar with when it comes to Chase sleeping with me. He’s a wool-sucker – meaning he suckles on fabric, and he likes suckling on blankets when those blankets are on me. He doesn’t keep his face buried in the blanket the whole time. He’ll often let go, and stare at me through slitted eyes while I doze off. I’ve gotten used to this, because he won’t allow anything else.

The Minefield

If you have cats that like to bring you presents, you might end up in this position if your cats sleep with you. Basically, your cat brings absolutely everything he can onto the bed before he goes to sleep between your knees. Shifting position at night is like walking a minefield because of all the objects on your bed, but you can’t move them away because he’ll just bring them back.

Neither Chase nor Kali does this, really, but sleeping with the both of them can constitute a minefield for me. Usually, Chase will stay between my feet, and Kali will sleep against my leg, essentially pinning one of my legs in place. Trying to move without kicking or shoving either of them does feel navigating a minefield.

The Marriage Counselor

I am a ridiculously light sleeper, so my husband and I don’t share a bed anymore. When we did, though, and Gizmo slept with us, she often played “marriage counselor.” When your cats sleep with you, and insist on being nowhere but between the two of you, this is the “marriage counselor” position.

These are the three that are most common for my cats and me. Which ones are the most common for you? Check out all 10 of HuffPo’s positions here.

Study Suggests Cats’ Coloring Determines Aggression

Since cats are still partly wild, they often seem capricious and prone to mood swings. You might wonder why one of your cats is aggressive in certain situations, while another is just as mellow as can be in those same situations. Chalk it partly up to individual personality and disposition, but it’s also possible that cats’ coloring determines aggression, too.

If cats’ coloring determines aggression, which cats are most aggressive?

According to a story in the Independent, female calicoes are more likely to be aggressive than cats of other colors. There isn’t data on how male calicoes behave, due to how rare those cats are (you will occasionally find male calicoes, but they’re very rare due to the fact that genes for both orange fur, and black fur, are carried on the X chromosome).

Black-and-white cats tend to be aggressive when handled, and gray-and-white cats get most aggressive while visiting the vet. Veterinary scientists at the University of California, Davis, surveyed 1,274 cat parents about what color cats they had, and when those cats most often displayed aggressive behavior. It seems that this survey may have, indeed, discovered that cats’ coloring determines aggression, at least to some degree.

What are the ideal colors for low levels of aggression?

The ideal colors, then, are solid black, gray or white, or tabby. That is, at least according to this study of whether cats’ coloring determines aggression. Gizmo, our solid black cat, does not like to be handled at all. She will claw and hiss, and sometimes even bite, unless we’re handling her on her express terms.

Kali’s a gray tabby, and she can be very affectionate, but she, too, only enjoys it on her terms. Her terms, however, come far more frequently than Gizmo’s. Chase is a black-and-brown tabby, and he’s a lot like Gizmo, except he doesn’t get aggressive when he doesn’t want to be handled. He just tries to get away.

Of all our cats, Aria is our most mellow, and will put up with an awful lot of petting, holding, hugging, and carrying, than our other three cats. She’s a dilute tortoiseshell, which isn’t mentioned in this article.

If it’s true that cats’ coloring determines aggression, then perhaps this could help people with deciding on a cat to adopt. It’s best to adopt a cat with a temperament that’s suited to your own lifestyle and home situation. For instance, if you have small children, you’ll want a cat that’s easygoing, mellow and tolerant. If calicoes truly don’t tolerate handling as well as, say, a solid white cat, then you can avoid calicoes that could snap at your children, just for being children.