How to Solve Alpha Cat Behaviour Problems
Many people are familiar with the concept of an alpha dog. The alpha dog is the leader of the pack. If your dog doesn’t accept your position as the alpha dog in the household, you’re probably going to have behavior problems with him.
But how many people have ever heard of an alpha cat? We think of cats as being solitary animals, but they can live in communities, as is shown by the number of feral cat colonies that exist in many places.
Some cats in a community have a higher status, and they’re known as “alpha cats.” Alpha cats are extremely aggressive to the cats around them, which enables these particular cats to get more food and other privileges than the other cats do.
Do You Have An Alpha Cat?
If you have cat behavior problems, it’s entirely possible. This goes beyond occasional orneriness. An alpha cat is a natural leader who’s extremely headstrong, and who always wants their own way. Alpha cat doesn’t hesitate to use aggression in the form of biting and scratching to try to bully and control their owner and any other animals in the household.
Dr. Nicholas Dodson has written an excellent article, The Alpha Cat Syndrome. He says an alpha cat will:
- bite you on the nose or toes to get you out of bed in the morning
- loudly demand food until you give in and feed her
- growl if anyone comes near her when she’s eating
- be extremely protective of her toys
- allow you to touch her only when she feels like it
Dr. Dodson says the classic sign of an alpha cat is petting-induced aggression. Your cat will jump into your lap and want you to pet her. Of course, you do. But within a few minutes, their ears go back, and their eyes narrow. They will look sideways at your hand, and then their tail starts lashing back and forth. The next thing you know, they are savagely attacking your hand, biting and clawing you for no particular reason.
What do you do with an evil cat like this?
Use Behavior Modification To Change Your Cat’s Behavior
Your cat probably already knows that you supply all the good things in their life, like food, petting, and a warm lap to sit in. You gain control of their behavior by forcing them to earn these things, instead of just giving it to them. Sound a little harsh? Probably, but your cat needs to learn that you’re in charge, and this is a non-confrontational way to do it.
The first thing to do is to make a list of the situations that cause your cat to become aggressive. Then avoid these situations. If your cat bites you to get you up in the morning, don’t let them in the bedroom at night. You may need to buy some earplugs so their yowling at the door at night doesn’t keep you awake, but don’t give in. They will stop after a few nights.
Take control of the feeding situation by getting them on a twice-a-day feeding schedule. You may want to try using clicker training to teach them to sit quietly before you feed them. If she doesn’t cooperate, don’t feed the cat. It won’t hurt them to miss a meal, and they are much more likely to show good manners at the next mealtime.
Here are some recommendation for your cat’s health:
Make your cat work for petting, especially if they have used petting-induced aggression against you before. Pet them only when they do something to deserve it, like coming when called or sitting quietly when you feed them. When you do pet your cat, be alert for signs of aggression as mentioned above, and stop petting them immediately. Avoid a bad situation by keeping the petting sessions short.
Don’t respond to demanding behavior. Training your cat requires ignoring the behavior you don’t want while rewarding your cat when they do what you want. Walk away and ignore them if they are demanding. Give them what they want later, but only if your cat does something you want them to do, like sit quietly or come when they are called.
Showing your mean cat some “tough love” can change your cat’s behavior from demanding and aggressive to learn to respect you and accept you as the alpha cat in the household.