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How to Stop My Cat from Bullying My Other Cat: Vet-Approved Solutions

Savannah Stanfield

By Savannah Stanfield

cats fighting

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Owning multiple cats definitely comes with its set of challenges. One of those challenges is that no matter how much we hope they will, sometimes our cats just don’t get along. One cat may be bullying another cat, which can affect the bullied cat’s quality of life negatively.

Cats that are bullies may block other cats from getting to the food and water bowl or the litter box, and they may even start fighting other cats for seemingly no reason. If this sounds like a situation that’s happening with your cats, don’t worry. We’ll share with you some helpful tips regarding how to stop your cat from bullying another cat.

Is It Bullying or Playfulness?

Before we get into how to stop a cat from bullying another cat, ask yourself is your cat really bullying another cat, or are they just playing together? Some cats may fight with each other as a form of stimulation or play, and although it looks like bullying, it’s really not. Knowing the difference between the two can help you determine whether or not you do, indeed, have a bullying problem on your hands.

The main difference between bullying and play fighting is that bullying is typically one-sided and there will usually be a clear form of aggression. Play fighting can be a little aggressive with some hissing, but the difference is that you won’t notice changes in their normal behavior if they are just playing.

For example, cats that are playing may go from cuddling one second to play-fighting the next and then back to cuddling. A cat that is being bullied may seem fearful or jumpy when around the other cat, or may even hide or try to avoid the cat as much as possible.

Physical Changes

Look for changes in the cats’ behavior while the fighting is going on as well. Cats that are playing may take turns biting and clawing at each other without the intent of causing injury. They may also appear to be wrestling.

But if only one cat seems to be biting and clawing at the other and it seems like he’s trying to intentionally harm the other cat, then this could be a sign of bullying. Other signs of a cat being bullied include his ears being turned back while fighting or his tail puffing up. Loud hissing or being chased until they hide is another sign that your cat may be being bullied.

Two cats fighting kung-fu style
Image Credit: Leuchtturm81, Pixabay

The 4 Reasons Some Cats Bully Other Cats

It’s true that some cats’ personalities just don’t mix, which could lead to potential bullying and aggression on one cat’s part. But, most of the time, you can fix a bullying problem if you can get to the root of the issue for the aggressor.

There are many potential reasons why your cat may bully another cat. Sometimes it’s due to a personal issue with the cat itself, but other times your cat may be trying to tell you something. Here are some of the issues your cat may be experiencing that are causing him to bully another cat.

1. Territory

Cats are known for being territorial creatures, regardless of whether they are male or female. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that territory is one of the main causes of aggression and bullying in cats.

One of your cats being territorial is more likely to happen if he’s been the only cat in the house for a while, and then another cat is brought in. Your cat may be bullying the new cat to let him know that he was here first and this is his space. It’s not uncommon for this to happen especially if the two cats weren’t properly introduced to one another.

But, let’s say that you have two cats, one that is an adult and one that is a kitten. The adult cat may not bully the kitten, but once the kitten grows into an adult as well, that’s when the bullying starts. It’s possible that your older cat didn’t see the kitten as a threat to his territory until the kitten grew up, so he’s bullying him to let the younger cat know that this is still his territory.

Two young ginger and brown cats fighting in the garden
Image Credit: Mariya Ilmaz, Shutterstock

2. Sharing Resource

Another cause of bullying in cats could be due to the cats having to share resources, such as food, water, litter, or a bed. Although a lot of cats will get along just fine having to share water and a bed, sometimes food and litter is a different story.

Let’s start with litter first. Cats mark their territory using the litter box, so if more than one cat is using the same litter box, it could lead to some aggression as the cats become stressed over whose space it is. This could even lead to the bully cat blocking your other cat from using the litter box, resulting in him going elsewhere.

Some cats also don’t like to share what they feel is their food. If your cats are sharing one big bowl of food, it could lead to aggression over whose food it actually is and can even result in one cat withholding from another.

The same is true for other resources as well, such as sleeping spots, toys, etc. Sometimes it just depends on the personality of the cat and whether or not he likes to share, but more often it’s due to the fact that one cat doesn’t feel like there are enough resources to go around, so he’s bullying another cat to assert his dominance and control that resource.

3. Attention

Sometimes cats may bully other cats as a result of a lack of attention. Just like children may act out when they don’t get enough attention, cats do too. One cat may bully another cat if he feels like that cat is getting more attention than he is.

Another reason could be that there is a lack of enrichment or mental stimulation to keep your cat happy. Your cat is bored, so he’s turning his attention to bullying another cat in order to keep him mentally stimulated or entertained.

two cats touch each other's noses
Image Credit: Sandeep Gore, Shutterstock

4. Gender

If your cats are of the same gender, either two males or two females, bullying could occur as a result of them reaching sexual maturity. This is especially true if the cats aren’t fixed or you have a cat of the opposite gender in the home as well.

For example, two male cats may be trying to compete over who gets the female cat. If one of the male cats is bigger than the other, then it may lead to bullying on the part of the larger cat in order to get the smaller cat to back off.

The 4 Ways to Stop Your Cat from Bullying Your Other Cat

If you’ve determined that one of your cats is, in fact, being bullied, don’t worry. Here are some solutions that you can try to help your cats live happier in your home so that you don’t have to give one of them up.

1. Separate and Reintroduce Them

Sometimes, cats benefit from a period of separation, then being reintroduced to each other properly. This is a great solution to one cat feeling territorial, especially if he’s used to being the only cat in the household or the cats weren’t introduced properly in the first place.

Separating your cats often involves keeping them in separate rooms with a closed door in between them. Allow each of them to get used to the other cat’s scent by allowing them to sniff something that the other has touched, such as a bed, blanket, or toy.

Finally, allow them to visit with each other for short periods of time under your supervision. If you notice any signs of aggression or discomfort, remove the cats back to their separate spaces. Continue these supervised visits, making them longer each time as long as there are no signs of aggression. If this is done properly, your cats should eventually warm up to each other. Additionally, utilizing a feline pheromone diffuser like Feliway may also help with this reintroduction.

person feeding two cats
Image Credit: Milles Studio, Shutterstock

2. Provide Separate Resources

If one cat is bullying another, make sure that you provide separate resources for them as well if it appears that one cat is withholding resources. For example, putting food in separate bowls gives each cat his own food so that there’s no need to fight over it.

Having multiple litter boxes can reduce bullying as well so that each cat has a place to mark with its own scent. The general rule with cats is that you should have one litter box for each cat you have, plus one extra. Following this rule should encourage your cats to use their own litter box and prevent them from going anywhere else as well.

3. Share Your Attention/Provide stimulation and enrichment

If both cats are in the same room together, make sure that you share your attention with each one of them. This can help prevent one cat from bullying another due to lack of attention, as they will both feel equally loved and stimulated. Having lots of toys, activities, and vertical spaces for your cats can help them to feel more stimulated as well.

4. Spay and Neuter

If you have more than one cat, regardless of whether or not they are of the same gender, be sure to have them spayed or neutered. Neutering is one of the most effective ways to prevent aggressiveness in cats, which can reduce the chances that one of your cats will start to bully the other one and end up injuring him or her in the process.

  • Seek veterinary consultation.  If you’re unable to resolve the conflict between two cats by making the mentioned changes at home, then it’s time to seek help from your veterinarian. Both cats should be examined to make sure that there is not an underlying medical cause for aggressive behavior. Your vet may recommend short-term anti-anxiety medications or even long-term behavior modifying drugs depending on the situation and severity. You can even ask for a referral to a board certified veterinary behaviorist.
spaying cat
Image Credit: De Visu, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

One cat bullying another cat can be a serious problem, especially if one cat gets injured in the process. If you have a bullying problem with your cats, then hopefully we were able to provide you with plenty of helpful information as well as solutions to help you fix this problem. By trying the solutions in this guide, you should be able to help your cats coexist in your home more peacefully and see each other as equals instead of a threat.

Featured Image Credit: Vshivkova, Shutterstock

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