How to Stop Cat Bullying

If he's angry, let him cool off before picking him up.
If he's angry, let him cool off before picking him up. (Image: Vampirica/iStock/Getty Images)

If you have a feline who tends to dominate over the other four-legged members of your family, or even you, it’s time to work with your kitty to prevent any full-on brawls and attacks. Separating the aggressor, offering bribes, ignoring him or even getting him fixed, are a few ways to nix the behavior. Following these few tricks at home may help, however, your best bet may be to seek the advice of a professional.

Separate Living Quarters

Because bullying can lead to injuries after scuffles, it’s important to separate the animals in your home, temporarily. If you have one cat who’s attacking the other animals, secure him on another floor of your home or in a large bedroom. He’ll need his own food, litter and toys. Of course, you don’t want to punish your companion and lock him up all the time, so switch places occasionally. Let Felix, the aggressor, stay in your bedroom while you’re at work. Then when you get home, let him out and put your other kitties in there. Not only does separating your furry family members limit their ability to fight, by swapping places, they start to get used to each others smell, making them more familiar with one another. If Felix's bullying comes from being nervous, a quiet spot will make him feel safe.

Offer a Bribe

Much like children, cats can be bribed for good behavior. Keep a noisemaker, such as an empty soda can filled with a few pennies, nearby. You’ll need a container of treats or a few toys, too. The next time Felix gets into his bullying mode, distract him by making a loud noise with the noisemaker, or by clapping your hands. Toss a few treats at him, wiggle a feather toy in his face or throw a catnip ball across the room. It’ll take persistence, but with time, he should start to figure out that when other fuzzy family members come around, he gets a treat and attention. A little playtime even gets out some of his pent-up frustration.

Ignore the Behavior

You don’t want to ignore Felix’s bullying behavior when he’s picking on other animals -- you don’t want anyone to get hurt. But if he’s being aggressive with you, ignoring him is sometimes the best fix. Think of it from his perspective: He wants you to play with him. He doesn’t care that it’s late or that your favorite show is on. When you ignore him as he purrs and brushes up against your face, he realizes he needs to get your attention. He may attack your hand, nip at your ankles or pounce on you. When you pick him up and pet him, even if only for a second, he’s getting the attention he wanted. Try ignoring him instead. Get up and move away. Eventually, he’ll learn that when those claws and teeth come out, his human leaves him.

Get Him Fixed

Hormones play a big role in feline aggression, particularly among male cats. Intact males tend to bicker as they try to claim the “top cat” spot for territorial and mating reasons. Female kitties can be a little aggressive if left unfixed as well. Neutering and spaying helps level out those sex hormones that send territorial and mating urges into overdrive. If you haven’t yet had your cat fixed, it might be that time. Generally, felines can be fixed as young as 8 weeks old. To minimize hormone-related aggressive tendencies, you should get him fixed before 6 months of age.

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