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How to show your cat that you are dominant

Updated April 17, 2017

Cats are solitary animals that avoid interactions with other cats, apart from their mating partner, offspring or cats from the same household. Cats also exhibit territorial behaviours and are creatures of habit. Cats within the same household and neighbourhood cats are subject to a dominance hierarchy, and higher ranking cats obtain their dominant position through play fights and displays of aggressive behaviour. Dominance hierarchy displays are typical cat behaviour traits. However, if your cat begins to display aggressive behaviours towards you or other people, or threatens the welfare of your other pets, it's time to show your cat that you are the boss.

Give your cat the same amount of attention and playing time that you give to your other pets. Instruct other household members, such as your partner and children, to share their affections equally among the household pets, too.

Alternate feeding your cat first with delaying his feed until you have fed other cats or other pets in your household. Observe your cat to deter unwanted dominant feeding behaviours like nudging a fellow cat away from his food bowl.

Remove your cat immediately to a quiet and secluded place the moment he displays aggressive behaviours like hissing, scratching or biting. After a minute, calmly return your cat to the original surroundings. If he react aggressively upon return, immediately spray him with a light spray of water from a spray-top plastic bottle.

Tip

Engage your cat in periods of structured play with wands or other cat toys for up to 10 minutes, twice a day. Cease the play session immediately if your cat bites you. Say, "Ouch!" and walk away from him. He will begin to learn that biting causes the fun to end.

If your cat takes your hand into his mouth when you are petting him on your lap, he might have become overstimulated. Immediately stand up to remove him from your lap, and then avoid giving him attention or contact for a few hours.

Warning

Avoid letting your cat attack your hands and feet during play sessions. If you encourage aggressive play behaviour towards you, your cat's play behaviour might escalate towards more aggressive and dominant outbursts.

Avoid shouting at your cat as this will only frighten him and might cause him to display further signs of aggression.

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About the Author

Mother of three and graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Julie Vickers is an early years teacher and writer who also loves to craft and create! She writes on topics such as education, health and parenting for websites such as School Explained and has contributed learning sessions on child development and behavior for the Education Information and Learning Services website.