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5 Reasons Cats Get Jealous (And How To Stop It)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Abyssinian cat hisses

You love your cat, but lately, it seems like your feline friend is a little obsessed with you. Your cat won’t leave you alone and you may have noticed other strange incidents such as sudden angry outbursts or destructive behaviors like scratching furniture. Do cats get jealous and could that be what’s going on?

It’s common for us to want to explain our pet’s behaviors in terms of human emotions, like jealousy. However, cats don’t truly get jealous in the same way as we do. Cats are very territorial and competitive by nature. Jealous behaviors are usually how they react when they feel they need to maintain their rightful place in your home.

No matter how you describe your cat’s behavior, it’s not fun to live with, and you’d really like it to stop. The first step in solving your cat’s jealousy is figuring out why it’s happening. Here are 5 reasons that your cat might be acting jealous and how you can stop it.

Why Cats Act Jealous

As we mentioned, jealousy in cats is a sign that they feel threatened or insecure by something in their environment. There can be many causes of this behavior but here are 5 of the most common:

1. A New Family Member

The arrival of a new person or pet in your home can trigger jealous behavior in your cat. Whether it’s a new baby, a new significant other, or a new puppy, your cat may feel that this new arrival doesn’t belong in their territory and will react accordingly. Your cat may recognize that a new family member will compete with them for your attention, leading to a jealous response.

grey cat beside a baby
Image Credit: aprilante, Shutterstock

2. Loss of Attention

It’s not just a new family member, but anything that you start paying more attention to that can lead to jealousy in your cat. Whether it be a new project, your phone, or the fact that you started working from home, your cat may notice you suddenly have less time for them. This can lead them to display the jealous behaviors you’ve seen.

3. Poor Socialization

Cats who were poorly socialized as kittens are more likely to feel insecure or overly dependant on their owners, causing them to act jealous. An example of this is an orphaned kitten who was bottle-raised. Growing up without a mother or other kittens to teach them how to form attachments, the adult cat isn’t sure how to react to unfamiliar situations and may react jealously.

cat hissing
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Change In Routine

Any changes in your cat’s daily routine can lead to feelings of insecurity and jealousy. This could be as major as home renovations or as minor as moving your cat’s food bowls to a new spot.

5. Lack of Personal Space

Because cats are territorial, they may act jealous if they feel they don’t have enough space. This could happen if they have to share litter boxes, food bowls, or beds with other cats. They might also feel crowded by more people or things in the house.

cat angry
Image Credit: Pixabay

Signs Of Jealousy

Acting clingy or obsessed with you is just one of the many signs that your cat may be jealous. Here are some other behaviors that you might notice as well:

  • Hissing, growling, or swatting at you or others
  • Invading your personal space in search of attention
  • Aggressive behavior like biting or scratching
  • Destructive behavior like scratching furniture, carpet, or walls
  • Urinating outside the litter box

How To Stop Your Cat from Being Jealous

Regardless of how your cat demonstrates jealous behavior, it’s likely to be unwelcome or even dangerous. You also don’t want your cat to be unhappy, even if they’re driving you crazy at the moment. So how can you stop your cat from being jealous and make both of your lives easier?

Figure Out What’s Making Your Cat Jealous

Like we already mentioned, you can’t help your cat to stop feeling jealous until you figure out what’s triggering the behavior. The first step to start is looking for signs of any of the 5 reasons we just discussed. Think about anything that’s changed in your life recently, no matter how small it might have seemed to you. Once you know why your cat is behaving in this way, you can help them learn to stop.

german shepherd smelling cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

Give Them More Attention

If your cat is jealous because they feel you aren’t paying them enough attention, the simple solution is to increase the amount of attention you give them. Spend one-on-one time petting or playing with your cat every day. This will help reassure your cat that they are still important to you and they don’t need to act out to get your attention.

Give Them Space

Feeling like they have to compete with other cats in their own space is a major cause of jealousy. Make sure your cats all have their own space and belongings. Litter boxes can be a big source of stress among cats. The recommendation is that you have one litter box for each cat plus one extra. Feeding your cats in separate spaces and with their own food and water bowls can also make them less competitive and territorial.

girl introducing cat to a beagle
Image Credit: Oksana Shufrych, Shutterstock

Create Positive Associations

If your cat is jealous of a new pet or new baby, one way to help stop this is to create a positive experience around any interaction they have. Pet or feed your cat treats while holding the baby or when your cat is near the baby. Feed your cat and your new pet meals together on either side of a closed door so they can smell each other and your cat associates tasty food with the new pet.

Ask Your Veterinarian for Help

If you’ve tried everything and are frustrated by trying to help your cat stop being jealous, it’s time to turn to a professional. Your veterinarian can help you with suggestions or strategies or even prescribe medications if necessary. If your cat’s jealous behaviors are severe, your veterinarian might refer you to a veterinary behavioral specialist.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with a jealous cat can be a frustrating and stressful situation. Thankfully, there are solutions and you don’t have to go through it alone. Remember, the first step is figuring out the cause of your cat’s behavior. The 5 reasons we discussed are a solid place to start your investigation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help before you give up on your cat.

Featured Image Credit: Slava Dumchev, Shutterstock

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