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Cat Dominance

Introduction

While cats are small, dominant behavior in cats can cause big problems. Dominant cats can become threatening to other pets in the household, and they can also begin to test their dominant behavior on people in the household. If dominant behavior is not discouraged, dominant cats can begin to cause bite and scratch wounds on other pets and people. This type of behavior is especially harmful in households where young children are present. To ensure that your cat does not develop dominant behavior, follow these guidelines below.

Preventing Dominant Behavior

Cats that are not spayed or neutered will eventually begin to display dominant behavior over other people and animals. This is particularly true in non-neutered male cats. Spaying and neutering your cat will help to prevent dominant behavior from developing in addition to other unwanted behaviors such as spraying.
Pet owners can sometimes accidentally encourage dominant behavior in cats. If you allow your cat to attack your hands or feet, your cat may eventually confuse this play behavior with dominant behavior. Giving one cat more attention than other cats in the household will also encourage dominant behavior. Try to give all animals the same amount of attention. Feeding rituals can also cause dominant behavior to develop. If you have more than one cat in the household, alternate which cat is fed first. Supervise feeding times to nip any dominant food behavior, such as pushing another cat away from a food bowl, in the bud.
From time to time, a cat may test dominant behavior on other pets or people in the home. This type of behavior can include attacking, hissing at, scratching, or hitting other pets or people. If a cat or kitten starts to engage in this type of behavior, remove the cat to a quiet and secluded place where it can calm down. If the behavior continues, lightly spray the cat with water from a water bottle when you see this behavior occurring. Immediately addressing any tests at dominant behavior will stop any progression of dominant behavior in your cat.

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