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Old 11-30-2007, 06:10 PM
 
650 posts, read 3,745,315 times
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Default Cat hierarchy--for those with more than one cat

For those with more than one cat, what have you noticed about your cats' hierarchy (i.e. the alpha cat, beta cat, etc.) How was this hierarchy established? Was the homecoming of a new cat or kitten disruptive to it?

My husband and I have two cats. When we were looking for the second one, we read a lot about this and decided (after lots of research), that a young, female cat would be the best addition to our established older, male cat. We read that a young, female cat would be the most readily accepted by an older male cat. It was a rocky first 6 months that we had the new kitten. The older cat would not accept her for about 6 months, and there was lots of hissing and growling.

Finally, after 6 months, they worked things out and are now friends. The older male cat is definitely the alpha, and the young, female cat is the beta. It's very interesting to me to see their interactions in terms of this--she always takes the submissive stance to his dominant one, in terms of things like who gets the preferred spot on the couch, etc.

What are your experiences with this? How have you noticed your cats' hierarchy established?
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Old 11-30-2007, 08:22 PM
 
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How funny that your male is the alpha cat, the heirarchy here is the opposite. The male is the largest cat by far but he is the most laidback. We have 3 cats, though, two of whom are female, a combination which I would not recommend. First we had the un-socialized female who took 2 years to decide she wanted to be around us. (We fed her and cleaned her litter box, but we rarely saw her otherwise.) She started coming out to be with us and wanted attention. After a while, we thought she was lonely and thought a companion would be good for her. I carefully chose a very laidback male kitten for her, whom she promptly hated. (This is when our big alpha dog barked in the cat's face to tell her "Back off!" and then began licking the male kitten. I swear, that dog would have nursed the kitten if he could have! lol He is very maternal.) Actually, because the oldest cat wasn't socialized with other animals (she grew up in a parking lot where other cats were competition at the dumpsters), she didn't know how to play with other cats and we've seen that reflected in her behavior with the male cat. She fights with him, but we've noticed that she will come up and antagonize him intentionally, so we think that is her way of playing with him. She is very quick with her paws!

The third cat (an adult but a younger female) came in when I found her starving and pitiful near a shopping center, too. The male cat loves her and she is a good playmate for him. Our older female actually occasionally forgets herself and licks the younger female as if it's her baby, but the younger female is...um...."difficult." Mean, too. Currently I would have to say that the younger female is the dominant one.

As far as the "best" place to sleep, they each have their own favorite spots. There isn't a whole lot of competition for that since they like different places.

Lately there has been some kind of change to intensify the animosity between the two females, but I'm not sure what it was. The younger female's behavior suggests that she might have been put in her place by the older female, but the younger female challenges her frequently. I'm about ready to consider crating them like Evey does with her cat because I'm sick of the younger female being so mean to the older female.
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Old 11-30-2007, 09:00 PM
 
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That's interesting. We have never observed any trying to challenge our alpha's position by our beta cat. She is very submissive and docile towards the alpha cat. If he wants her warm sleeping spot, she leaves. If she tries to groom him when he's not in the mood, he growls and she takes a submissive physical posture.
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Tucson, AZ
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Default Our strange trio

So initially we had one big male orange tabby that we got from the humane society. We had debated getting a second cat, but didn't until my sister, who works for a vet, talked us into taking a 6 mo. old female that someone had dropped off at their clinic several months earlier. They got along pretty well, but the female was definitely dominant, even though she was much smaller and timid with people.

Fast forward 2 years, another even bigger male orange tabby kind of adopted us. We're suckers. This has thrown the balance waaaay off!

Neither of the males have their front claws (they were like that when we got them). So male #1 picks on male #3. Male #3 picks on the female. The female picks on male #1. It's a bizzarre situation.

It's taken 3 years, but they're getting along better now. Once in a while they'll still get into it, but mainly they show their dominance by not letting one of the others sit on my lap.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:11 AM
 
Location: In the real world!
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I had a neighbors cat that sat on my door step begging to come in for 2 years, wanting to be with my big young male (already altered). At first I let her come in. Then, they moved away after he became very close to her. He missed her so bad that I went and got a companion kitten for him and then my son brought me another kitten to be a companion for the new kitten... So, I then had 3 cats in the house..

The neighbor moved back with the cat that sat on my doorstep again, begging to come in. The first kitten I got was born with Cerebella Hypoplasia and my vet told me not to let that neighbors cat in again since she had never been tested. In the meantime, my neighbor had thrown that cat out of the house and while she claimed she was feeding her, it was obvious she was NOT! That poor girl was being eaten up with fleas, loosing her fur and starving to death... Of coarse she never had her fixed so she was producing kittens every six months. I had decided that this poor girl was going to just dissapear one Sunday night and had everything set..

My neighbor came over that day and told me they had decided to keep one of her kittens so I asked her again for the 100th time, if I could have HER and she finally said I could! I had her to my vets that very next morning for testing and shots, and she was in such poor condition that the shots almost killed her. I brought her inside that day when I brought her home. (I gave her several week to get stronger before I had her fixed and she was already pregnant again!)

THAT is when the problems began.. Because she had been here before the other kittens came along, she thought SHE was in charge... They didn't know she had been here before and they thought THEY were in charge. The male of coarse, streightened them ALL out and let them know HE was in charge..

Then some years later, I ended up with my Mothers 12 year old cat and she came in here as the senior cat and thought she rules the entire house over everybody... That is still in the process of working itself out.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Illinois
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Default consider age difference in my opinion

#1 (jinglebells) a male cat weve had for seven years who came from a home that had a baby allergic to felines so we were fortunate enough to get him when he was still young.

since, weve adopted two more male cats from an animal shelter both 8 months old now(we have a weakness for petsmart!). both male cats #2 (jackfrost) and #3(ebeneezer) were of the same liter and are very similar in color.

it took them a little while to accept one another, again we were the type of owners who thought our cat was lonely and needed some companionship as we tend to be gone for a few days at a time sometimes.
the kittens would hide like most new pets do when first introduced to a new environment. once they felt comfortable with being home with us, they started showin up a little more around the house. this did not make jinglebells very happy. he first started showing disapproval by attacking ebeneezer who at the time seemed to be the runt of the liter, the weakest. unfortunately, jinglebells was at a disadvantage being completely declawed. the kittens are scheduled to also be declawed but for now seem to know when to use them when they feel threatened by jinglebells. he is by far not an aggressive feline. but i feel, felt threatened by the newcomers into a home he felt he was in charge of for the past 7 years.
they have all since learned to get along with one another and now the biggest problem would be sleeping arrangments...they all prefer to sleep with me. every so often they fight over who's going to sleep the closest. right now jinglebells sleeps on my pillow above my head, jackfrost sleeps at the end of the bed varying between my feet and my husbands or just plain between the both of our feet. ebeneezer likes to sleep everywhere, so he fights with jinglebells for some pillow space, fights with jackfrost for some end of the bed space and fights with myself and husband when he wants to sleep on either of us or in between us. it makes for a very crowded bed lol.
they also tend to fight over toys as well. weve learned to buy in triplicate.
i would suggest when getting a friend/brother or sister for a pet you already have, keep in mind how long youve had your current pet(s) when feeling the need to introduce a new one. not all situations end up happily.
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:08 PM
 
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I had an alpha cat, female Siamese. Is just their nature I think. I lived with my sister for a few years, we went to get a kitten from Human Society, managed to get two, strays, but were sweet little kittens. My cat would not give them an inch! She constantly put them in a corner, hissed, scratched and beat up on them. We finally had to give them away. Such a bad girl. She did go to her "reward" several years ago, and I miss her.

My new girl, just as bad, is part Siamese and part Lynx. Got her from a foster mom, who had 20 other cats. She reigned and cause hell in the house, so had to be relegated to the back of the house and garage. She gave it to the poor cats back there as well, just could not get along. She was "adopted" by a family with a dog, beat up on the dog, so was brought back. I knew she was the one for me! She is also very beautiful, very large with big blue eyes. Well, of the two of us, she is still alpha....never know when I am going to get a clawing or bite when I walk by. But she is also very affectionate, of course on her terms.
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:12 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
10,593 posts, read 22,129,183 times
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I have three cats, the smallest one is the newest one, with us a year now. We adopted him from a foster agency in our area. He rules the house with a velvet paw. Salem the previous alpha has given way to the newer cat and is very upset when the newest kitty trys to get close to him. Its funny to watch because the new one wants to get too know him but Salem is affraid. My daughter has started calling him an Emo, Salem is part Siamese from what the vet says and you can hear it in his voice.
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Kingman AZ
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Actually....we have two Alpha Cats [female Siamese and Male Maine Coon] They have solved the problem by totally ignoring each others existance.
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Old 12-01-2007, 01:49 PM
miu
 
Location: MA/NH
12,992 posts, read 21,778,067 times
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I have two cats. My original alpha was the older (by two years) female cat. When I introduced the younger male cat to my house he was about half grown. And apparently when he would go into the covered litter box, she would get very excited and try to stalk him. Something about hearing that scratching sound and not seeing what was causing the noise just made her crazy. I didn't realize this right away, but my clue was that my new kitty followed me into my bedroom twice, meowed, jumped up on the bed and peed right in the middle of the comforter!! Of course, I was horrified. Who wants a cat that doesn't used the litter box? Finally I started escorting him to the litter box several times a day when I thought it was time for him to go. Immediately I saw that as soon as he entered the litterbox, my other cat appearing and was in stalking mode. So for a few weeks, I would guard him while he did his duty.

Later on, my male cat got bigger and stronger, he became the alpha. He remembered being harassed by the other cat. He started bullying her and they have never been friends. Instead, the male cat prefers the company of my dogs. lol
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