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Jealous Behavior in Cats

Updated on November 29, 2016
The first kitty to live in our house!
The first kitty to live in our house! | Source

Cats can be jealous?

Many people believe that because cats can be aloof, they don't get jealous. That is not true! Cat's get very jealous. They are jealous of other cats, other pets and often other people in the householod. They may seem to be aloof but they are watching and listening to the household going-ons 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:

  • Anger
  • Fighting
  • "Potty" Accidents
  • Further Aloofness
  • Loud and demanding

Multiple Cat Household

Since jealousy has been a problem in my house recently, why not kill 2 birds with one stone (or just one very hungry kitty!) If you want a little more background on my brood, please read Life With Four Felines

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 stereo typical 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. And then, 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 Yang

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Phoebe on her favorite perch.Izzy is always quiet.The BFFs.They remind me of Yin and Yang!
Phoebe on her favorite perch.
Phoebe on her favorite perch. | Source
Izzy is always quiet.
Izzy is always quiet. | Source
The BFFs.They remind me of Yin and Yang!
The BFFs.They remind me of Yin and Yang! | Source

Steps to 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 and litter box and their own 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. A threat to their relationship to us, a threat to their food and toys and a threat to their well being. We tried to do as much as we could to alleviate all their fears.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Baby Finnick!Sweet Ella!Such a big boy now!All grown up!
Baby Finnick!
Baby Finnick! | Source
Sweet Ella!
Sweet Ella! | Source
Such a big boy now!
Such a big boy now! | Source
All grown up!
All grown up! | Source

New Pet Poll

Have you ever introduced a new pet into your household?

See results

Take a look at this article on How to Love Cats by hub writer Shazwellyn. It is a comprehensive hub with all kinds of insight into cats!

Signs that your Cat is Jealous

These are some of the behaviors you may see:

  1. Tipping over of food bowls
  2. Making a mess of the litter box
  3. Using the floor instead of the litter box
  4. Not responding to you in their typical way
  5. Hiding
  6. Not making eye contact
  7. Fighting

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. To read more about that and more articles about cats, feel free to check out these hubs:

Our Most Recent Addition

We call her the couch kitty.
We call her the couch kitty. | Source


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      True words, Randi! We have a grand old lady here; she is about twelve years old. A few months ago we took in a couple kittens for a friend, and the jealousy started immediately. We were finally able to find homes for the kittens, but until we did we had to deal with the jealousy daily.

    • Nancy C Moores profile image

      Nancy C Moores 4 years ago

      We have 2 beautiful girls, and they are so sweet and loving at times. They really like to do the loving, but they do love for us to show them love too. They do have a predominant one, and they would have a tiff now and then to see who would be that one, but finally one gained total predominance hahahaa. They are not the jealous type just act like they could care less. They are very funny.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thanks, Bill, I can always count on you to stop by! Yes, they are funny animals. I went overboard with the last 2. No more new ones for awhile!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you Nancy for stopping by and sharing your story! They are funny and fun!

    • SaffronBlossom profile image

      SaffronBlossom 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Loved reading about your kitties! I completely agree that house pet cats are not aloof--people who think that usually don't have a cat! The cat we had when I was in high school followed me around like a dog and demanded constant attention...I miss her. :)

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you for your input, SaffronBlossom! Ido love my babies!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      What adorable babies! It is a challenge bringing in a new one, but you did a good job making the experience as smooth as possible. That's one of the times when cats will misbehave the most, when they get jealous. Mine all basically get along, but each one still wants ALL the attention from me. Loved this hub!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, catgypsy! They are precious to me! They are also a handful!

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I think your experience with bringing new pets into a household would apply to dogs as well, Randi. Before my divorce, when I was living in my own home, I had a menagerie of critters, a Golden Retriever, Scottish Terrier, rescue Papillon, Sun Conyer, rescue aquatic turtle, a chinchilla and a rescue rabbit. My Scottie, MacGregor, was a typical terrier and picked his place as alpha dog. My 100 lb Golden, Leo, was more than happy to acquiese. Leo was happy, period, as long as he was fed and loved. The little rescue Papillon was shaky, scared and timid by the time my daughter rescued her from a heroin addict, where she was nearly starved. She stayed out of Mac's way and was happy with a warm, loving place to lay. Our home had the typical amount of dysfunction that worked for all the critters. Ironically, the lady that sold us MacGregor cautioned integrating our Scottie into a home with other dogs for 'his' protection. I used great care in the acclimation process and found that Mac could hold his own; in fact, he would have been a bully, if allowed. The doggie dynamics with Mac onboard demanded that I watch out for his roommates! They soon figured it out and lived in relative harmony.

      Great writing, Randi. I admire your energy, generosity and caring for all the lucky critters you call your own.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Very helpful information, btrbell...right now I only have one kitty. She is my Honeybee and is actually an indoor/outdoor kitty by choice. There are a number of stray kitties that would like to be my kitties too.

      At one time we had 13 kitties when we had a halfway house for animals in New Smyrna Beach (Fl). The way we got around the jealousy factor was that we got most of them at the same time. Then when a new one was introduced the pecking order was established. There were a few skirmishes but all in all it went well.

      thanks for sharing this info..

      Sending you Angels this evening :) ps

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Amy, if I could, I'd keep adopting all those sweet babies but unfortunately money and space are factors that have to be considered. I would love dogs also. Thank you for your great comments. I so enjoy hearing about you!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Pstraubie, thank you for stopping by and all your great comments. You are so appreciated. What you did in that halfway house was spe ial!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      Good morning Randi from lake erie time ontario canada with a beautiful sunny day and milder temperatures although a very high wind off the lake/11:50am

      Yes you just knew this title and most fascinating hub presentation would catch my eye - my Tiffy and Gabriel watch each other all of the time especially if I come into the mix so there was a lot of truth in what you write here but also much enlightenment too.

      That's what good writers always do: they find something different in a story and make sure we go away satisfied and thanks to you dear Randi I have learnt something new today.

      Sending sincere warm wishes to you and your family and hoping all is well with you.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Colin! It is raining now :( Everyone is a little jumpy here at the moment! I always appreciate seeing you here and am thrilled if I have imparted anything of value to you!

    • LagunaAlkaline profile image

      Amanda 4 years ago from Camas, WA

      I have 4 cats and each one was a different experience! I have never done it before myself (my mom has always been the one to initiate the cat introducings) but I am sure that I will be getting more cats when I move out. I am so glad I read your hub because now I am confident that I can do it! I voted this hub up and useful!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Wow! Another crazy cat lady! Thanks so much for your comments and votes. Go slowly on building the zoo. I am sometimes overwhelmed here! Lol

    • LagunaAlkaline profile image

      Amanda 4 years ago from Camas, WA

      Haha maybe I should send my boyfriend to the pet store for food instead of me from now on!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      I know, right?! I'm a sucker!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My parents always had dogs and cats when I was growing up. My husband and I started out with dogs. We now have 2 cats and my mother's Pomeranian dog. You can read about our first cat in the hub My Life as the Top Cat. Dusty still thinks of himself as such. He would just as soon dispatch Skippy the dog out of the house. Definite jealousy! Both of our cats were adults when they showed up needing help. Now they are inside cats. Peaches, our female cat is such a sweetie. She plays with both Dusty and Skippy.

      Good tips on introducing new animals into the house. It took Dusty a couple of days to accept Peaches. Up, useful and interesting votes.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Peggy for stopping by. I look forward to reading about menagerie! I also grew up with dogs. Phoebe was my first house cat! Thank you so much for the votes!

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Voted up, useful and interesting! This was a great read, Randi! We don't have any pets now (I've managed to kill Cameron the First, the Second and the Third - fish - with kindness and lack of expertise; I can't go through that again with a larger animal!) but it did bring back great memories of the cats we had when I was in my late teens.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you Anahi! I've never done so well with fish either. The cats have turned out to be easier!

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      :-) I may relent...but I'm not brave enough yet!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      lol! It took me a long time! We only got Phoebe less than 5 years ago!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      I'm glad everything settled down and you're one happy household again. I love the cat photos. My dad had to introduce two cats (his) into a household with one dog (his new wife). The start was so rough that they thought it would be impossible for the 3 animals to live together. Now they've settled in and all is peaceful once again. : ) Your tips are great for introducing new animals to the house. Thanks!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Vespawoolf! I appreciate your comments! It's funny, just when you think everyone is calm, another one starts "posturing"! Oh well, it's a lot like kids!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Thank you so mcuh for this great hub yet again Randi. I love reading anything on animals as for the first time ever i do not have the company 0of any at all. This is a bone of contention between myself and my partner at the moment so we shall see. It doesn't stop me from enjoying reading about them though and I also love the images. Have a wonderful day.


    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Eddy! Yes, pets can be the cause of many disaggreements between family members and partners. Tread lightly! You have a wonderful day, as well!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Wonderful cat hub. You have an adorable crew! With four, I'm sure they are like any four people -- there are moments of peace and moments of discontent but I bet you don't have much boredom! I have 5 indoor ones myself.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, FlourishAnyway! they are pretty adorable and the little ones are always into something! Good for you on 5! I may be joining that status unless I find a good home for our outdoor kitten.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Suchey 4 years ago

      Oh how I miss my kitty! :( I had the most amazing, bestest kitty ever . . . my favorite pet I've ever had, and he died a few months ago of renal failure. He was only four years old. I will get another kitty again though, hopefully sooner than later. I can't avoid hubs when they are about cats. Thanks for this one. ;)

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      I am so sorry about your kitty, Jennifer :( They are truly members of our family. My crew is pretty goofy right now and a bit overcrowded but ....they are all cherished!

    • profile image

      asdfghjkl 13 months ago

      why is my cat jealous when my dog gets pet but not her she gets mad at me a lot just because of that

    • profile image

      Simon Murphy 6 months ago

      Our one year old ginger is such a loving his Dad.

      If my wife picks him up he instantly starts to bite her arm, but not me. He lays with me and curls up and I snuggle him and kiss him and he loves it again, only by me.

      My wife was stroking my arm and he pushed her hand away, the more she tried to do it he pushed harder, then the claws came out followed by a bite.

      He does get jealous at times and you can see it in his face.

    • profile image

      LisaPedley 4 months ago

      My 4 year old Ragdoll is expressing these jealous behaviors and is a 1 cat household. A year ago i split with my husband (my husband and I had him since he was 12 weeks old) and moved into my own place, he was fine for 3 months then i went away and put him at his normal cattery and since then he will not use his litter tray, unless I am standing over him watching. Otherwise he will go on the floor next to his tray. This is the same for peeing and pooing! I have tried all the “retraining” litter training, all the cleaning, taken to the vets EVERYTHING they tell you to do and no luck! ! I have a new partner now, who Rupert seems to love, he will sleep on this feet and not mine and follow him everywhere, so we didn’t think it could be jealousy but now I am thinking it could be, and if so, how do I stop this? We are getting to the point where we feel he is just doing it to annoy us! I still give him lots of cuddles and brushes and play with him from the minute I get home, so I just don’t know what to do? Any ideas?

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 months ago from Mesa, AZ

      @Lisa Pedley I think jealousy could play a part, yet, as you aaid, he loves your new partner. In the beginning I'm sure he missed your ex and old home. I definitely think this is behavioral. I have a similar situation with my most recent foster.

      I don't how much you are able to spend but I think the only thing that you can do at this point is either wait it out (fingers crossed & paper towels at the ready) or consult with a cat behaviorist. Just google "cat whisperer" Good luck!

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