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Do Cats Get Jealous or Envious? What You Need to Know

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By Nicole Cosgrove

sad cat

Cats are usually considered lower maintenance pets than dogs, and they have a reputation for being aloof. In truth, however, cats can get very jealous of other cats, of the family dog, and of their owners. They can even get jealous if you spend time in their favorite spot.

Signs of jealousy include anger and fighting, antisocial behavior towards humans, and even litter accidents. They can become very demanding. Jealousy can especially be a problem if you bring a new cat, dog, or human into the house.

The following is what we’ve learned by checking out what the experts and animal behaviorists have to say.

Causes of Jealousy in Cats

Jealous cats can be difficult to live with, and one of the first steps to remedying jealous behavior is to identify the cause of that jealousy. Possible causes include:

A New Addition to the Family

This is especially a problem for cats that are used to getting all the attention, all the time. The introduction of a new cat, or a dog, to the family means that your cat will be getting less attention than it is used to. Similarly, the arrival of a new baby naturally means that you will have less time for your cat.

devon rex cats enjoying tuna treat
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

Spending Less Time With Your Cats

There are other reasons that people spend less time with their pet cats, and the problem has likely been worse over the past couple of years. Your cat is used to spending time with you when you’re home. If you have suddenly found yourself working from home or spending more time from home, your cat will expect you to spend a reasonable amount of that time with them. They won’t understand why you’re spending more time on your laptop, with your phone, or watching TV.

Poor Cat Socialization

If a cat is not properly socialized when it is young, it can become overly dependent on you. This means that it will expect to have your undivided attention for a large majority of the time. Failing to provide adequate attention as they become older means that your cat can show signs of jealousy.

A Change in Routine

While it might seem like cats do what they want, when they want, they do conform to routines. They know typical feeding times and they pick up on your schedule, so they know when to expect you home. They will expect attention at specific times, too. Changing a routine means that you will likely be spending less time with your cat when they expect attention, and this is a cause of jealousy.

cat owner feeding her pet cat
Image Credit: Milles Studio, Shutterstock

Lack of Personal Belongings

This tends to be a problem in multi-cat and multi-pet households. If your cat has few items or areas that they consider their home, then they will likely guard what items they do have more closely. If another cat comes and takes the one toy they have, they will get jealous. If a new dog lays on their only blanket, they will get jealous.

Signs of Jealousy in Cats

Whatever the cause of jealousy, it can manifest in a variety of ways. Signs of jealousy in cats include:

Antisocial Behavior

Antisocial behavior includes scratching and biting. It can also include destructive behavior such as increased scratching or chewing of furniture. Your cat may show its jealousy by knocking items off tables and causing more damage.

male domestic cat scratching furniture with front claws
Image Credit: Melissa Sue, Shutterstock

Aloof Behavior

Cats are known for being aloof. They come to you when they want attention or food but may stay out of the way otherwise. Jealousy can exaggerate this aloofness so that they spend even less time in your company.

Inappropriate Littering

Inappropriate littering means peeing and pooping outside the litter tray, and it can be a sign of depression, illness, or jealousy. It may also be an indication of ill health, so it is always something worth investigating if it is a new problem.

What To Do About It

Whether your cat is scratching and biting guests, chewing the curtains, or popping outside the litter tray, there are ways to help reduce and eliminate these problem behaviors.

Identify the Cause

First, identify the cause of jealousy. Have you recently got a new cat or introduced a dog to the house? Have you been spending more time at home, working?

sad lonely cat
Image Credit: medveda, Shutterstock

Spend More Time With Your Cat

If your cat is jealous of the amount of time you are giving to other household members, or even to your laptop, try to put aside some extra time to spend with your feline friend. Because cats like routine, it can be a good idea to a lot a certain time each day.

Give Them Their Own Space

A new cat or baby could be encroaching on what your cat believes to be its personal space. If they spend a lot of their time on a particular chair, and that chair is now taken up by the dog, they will get jealous. Try to set aside an area for your cat: an area that they like. Put a basket or bed, blanket, scratching post, and some toys in that area so your feline family member knows it is for them.

Introduce Interactive Toys

If you can keep your cat busy, they may not notice that you are spending less time with them, thereby reducing feelings and signs of jealousy. Interactive toys are a great way to keep your cat active. They are also good for cognitive, mental, and physical health.

Cat playing with stuffed toy
Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

Encourage Good Behavior

While some may scoff at the very idea of training a cat, it is possible. Provide treats when they do something positive that you want to encourage. Ignore them if they do something you want to discourage. Be consistent and keep up with the training. Eventually, your cat will understand.

Teach Them to Accept the New Routine

If you have introduced a new animal or human to the house, you can’t ignore them for the benefit of the cat. You can teach them that the new routine is not one to fear or be jealous of. Pet or play with your cat while spending time with the baby or pet them when they are near the new addition.

How Can You Tell If a Cat Is Jealous?

There are many ways that cats show jealousy. They might try and come between you and the object of their jealousy. They might scratch or try to bite if you approach a new pet, or they might even attack the new kitten if they believe you are spending too much time with them. Spraying is another common symptom of jealousy, and one that you need to watch for.

Are Cats Jealous of Their Owners?

If your cat has been part of your life longer than a new partner, your feline friend might become jealous of the attention you give your partner. Ensure your significant other pays some attention to the cat and try to pet the cat when you are spending time together.

Conclusion

Cats can be aloof and may seem distant, but they can become very jealous, especially if there is a new addition to the family, be it a cat, dog, or human. Look for signs of jealousy, such as increased demands for attention or, conversely, increased aloofness, and take steps to minimize the jealousy as soon as you identify it.

 

Featured Image Credit: avi_acl, Pixabay

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