Feline Dominance or Competitive Aggression

Filed Under: Cats, Behavioral & Training

In any stable household environment cats will develop a hierarchy of personalities and form dominance relationships. Sometimes these relationships will be subtle while other times they may be problematic or worse. Often, the alpha cat is not aggressive unless challenged or while protecting desirable resources. Family members may suddenedly be in flux when a family member becomes deceased or a new family member is introduced. This may result in the remaining family members vying for dominance.

When a high-ranking cat starts to guard resources even when not using them, the simplest solution may be to offer additional resources elsewhere in the home such as a food, water bowls, or litter boxes. Some of the higher ranking cats are pure bullies. Bullies are commonly not adequately socialized with their own species while young.

A bully may be treated with fluoxetine, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, at a level of 0.5 to 1.5 mg/kg/day. The social interaction of the bully should be monitored and conflicts should be prevented whenever possible. When supervision is not possible, the cat should be separated from other household members.

References:

Beaver, Bonnie. Feline Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians. W.B. Saunders Co. 1992. Pp. 97-115.

Crowell-Davis, Sharon. “Intercat Aggression.” Compendium for Continuing Education Veterinarian. September 2007. Pp. 541-546.

Horwitz, Debra. “Feline Aggression Directed Toward People.” NAVC Clinician’s Brief. May 2007. P. 33-34.

Marder, Amy and Victoria Voith. “Advances in Companion Animal Behavior.” Veterinary Clinics of North America. Vol. 21. No. 2. W.B. Saunders Co. March 1991. Pp. 315-327.

Topics: aggression, dominance

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