Can Cats Be Jealous? Jealous Behavior in Cats
Cats Can Be Jealous?
Many people believe that because cats can be aloof, they don't get jealous. That is not true! Cats get very jealous. They can be jealous of other cats, other pets, and often other people in the household. They may seem to be aloof, but they are watching and listening to the household goings-on, and if they are not given the attention they feel they deserve, they will be sure to let you know! Jealous behavior can be demonstrated in several different ways, including:
- Potty accidents
- Further aloofness
- Being loud and demanding
The Typical Cat
Cats are typically a quieter, less demanding type of pet. They have a tendency to prefer to be alone a good part of the day. Often they are aloof and only seek out human contact when it is time for nourishment or physical warmth. That is the stereotypical cat. That is not the common house pet. Cats that are brought up and nurtured within a family are much more social. Their interactions far surpass the feeding and physical comfort stage. They are a part of the family and they begin to act like any household member. They include themselves in the "pecking order" of both the human family members and other pets. Cats can be quite territorial with their things and with their family. Any upset to their balance can cause anger, jealousy, and hurt.
Single Cat Household
Our first cat was Phoebe. She was completely spoiled, went everywhere with us, and was the perfect house pet. She ate cat food only, stayed off the table, and loved to go for rides in the car! She was essentially passed from arm to arm. We loved her so much, we decided to get another. We didn't really expect too many problems but I did a few things ahead of time, like make sure that there were new toys, feeding bowls and litter to try to ease the transition. Enter Isabella, a two year old rescue cat. This is when the fun began.
Bringing a New Cat Into the Home
Our new cat was already almost 2 and had probably been abused. She was a scared, meek little girl when we brought her home. Phoebe took one look at her and the chase began. It ensued for several days. Phoebe would perch on her tower and growl at Izzy. Izzy would run and hide. When she would finally get the nerve to come out again... pounce! We decided to try holding both of the girls in our arms and showing them how much we loved them both. This caused our Phoebe to go ballistic, race all over the house, and knock as many things down as she could! Realizing this was all due to jealousy, we left them alone, not giving anyone special preference or too much attention. After several days, things calmed down. They established their own ground rules. They decided that Phoebe was the dominant female and they became the best of friends. We had, once again, a peaceful home with two sweet, loving kitty girls.
Yin and YangClick thumbnail to view full-size
Steps for Introducing Your New Kitten
These are the things that we did to ease the transition:
- We kept the kittens in a separate room for the first two weeks.
- They had their own food bowls, litter boxes, and toys.
- We slowly introduced them to the older cats.
- They only came out when supervised by us.
- We allowed the older cats to explore the "kitty" room when we were with them.
- We gave our older cats the same amount of attention they were accustomed to.
- We didn't allow the big girls to "bully" the babies but...
- We didn't force them to let the babies get away with bothering them.
Introducing a New Kitten Into Your Household
So enamored by our two girls, we decided to adopt another kitty. We ended up taking two very young kittens, a brother and sister. We spent some time playing with and getting to know them before taking them home. We knew the big girls would be wary, but since they were so good at taking care of each other, we felt certain that once they saw these babies, they would melt. Meltdown is more like it! There was a lot of tension in our home during that time period. The big girls were curious but angry. The kittens disturbed them.The big girls didn't think they were adorable the way we did. They saw them as a threat: to their relationship to us, to their food and toys, and to their well being. We tried to do as much as we could to alleviate all their fears.
New Pet Poll
Have you ever introduced a new pet into your household?
Signs That Your Cat Is Jealous
These are some of the behaviors you may see:
- Tipping over of food bowls
- Making a mess of the litter box
- Using the floor instead of the litter box
- Not responding to you in their typical way
- Not making eye contact
A Multiple Cat Household
It took a few months for everyone to have a begrudging friendship.Everyone has their individual feeding bowls. They eat at the same time and checking out each other's bowl is only fair game when the owner has had their fill! All toys are shared and each cat has their favorite. Our younger cats and older cats are still not the best of friends much to my disappointment but they tolerate each other. Although Phoebe is clearly our dominant female, she has met her match in Ella! They are still jealous of each other and vie for our attention. Yet, sometimes when they think I'm not looking, they even kiss or groom each other!
Exceptions to the Rule
We have since added one more cat to our crazy household. She has proven to be the exception. I don't know a lot about her background but she came to us when she lost her beloved human mother to cancer. She has been in our home for over two years and still hasn't connected with the other three. She tends to bully and attack them when they are most vulnerable.She is still a work in progress!
It has been a few years since I originally wrote this article. We have since lost our male, Finn in a very tragic way.
Our Most Recent Addition
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
I moved into a house with my partner and brought my cat with me. We went from a household of just me, my cat, my father and my dad's cat to now just him. Lately, he has been screaming whenever my partner tries to communicate with me and from the moment I come home to when I go to bed. What can I do to help show him we are going to be ok as it is causing a strain on my relationship? (Will always choose my cat over my partner)
I think your cat is just jealous of your partner. It will take time for your kitty to realize that he is still number one. Make sure your partner takes some time to get to know your cat, too.Helpful 11
I got a new kitten two days ago. My cat started hissing at it, and now he is hissing at everyone and gets mad if we try to pet him. Do you have any advice?
Keep them separate while your older cat gets used to having someone new in his home. Respect your older cat. He will want to protect his territory.Helpful 13
One of my two cats had kittens, and now the other cat is hissing at the mama cat. Why is she doing this?
She is probably confused and jealous. She should calm down soon.Helpful 7
I have two cats that are sisters. They fight, and are very jealous of each other, so I have two litter boxes. I will stand guard near it while one is using the restroom, so in retaliation, the other cat has started using my carpet as a litter box. I have since separated the two boxes, but the cat still uses the carpet. What should I do?
This is a tough one! I still have a bit of fighting between my girls, as well but it has become more and rarer. Do you feel like they are vying for your attention? It's possible that they may be jealous of your time spent with the other.
There are some very good articles written about stopping cats from urinating on the carpet. The first step after trying to find the reason, is to thoroughly clean the area using something like vinegar that will take out the scent. It is possible that she is using the same spot because she is attracted by the scent.Helpful 7
I have a two-year-old rescue cat who constantly meows at my boyfriend, especially when we try to go to bed. I have tried pheromones, reassurance, ignoring her, numerous things but nothing works. Do you have any suggestions to get her to stop?
I haven't a lot of experience with this, but I would try to make her a comfy bed elsewhere and hope she settles down in time.Helpful 3