Critter Culture
Help! My Cat is a Bully and It Has to Stop

Help! My Cat is a Bully and It Has to Stop

Critter Culture Staff



Can cats be bullies? You bet they can, and even the best-disposed cat will act up from time to time. Cats may bully and hurt other animals, or even people, from time to time for all sorts of different reasons, and it's up to you to manage this behavior to keep things happy in the home. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to manage feline behavior and keep it from getting out of hand.


Is your cat a bully?

cat looking angry Kilito Chan / Getty Images

It may seem odd to use human terms like "bully" to describe a cat, but if you live with them, you understand this can be appropriate. Cats have personalities, just like humans do; sometimes, those personalities come with flaws. Even the sweetest house cat can turn into a tyrant under the right (or wrong) conditions.


Reasons a cat might become a bully

scottish straight cat meows with a strange expression Евгений Харитонов / Getty Images

Cats turn to bullying for all kinds of reasons. They may be under stress for whatever reason, or they could be feeling unwell and lashing out at others. Sometimes cats act like jerks when they have a personality conflict with others or when they're in a bad mood, and the dog gets too close for comfort. Remember also that cats still have a wild predator streak in them, so sometimes they'll just act mean.


Typical cat bullying tactics

Kitten playing with dog on sofa at home Westend61 / Getty Images

A lot of cat bullying looks like normal cat behavior but is aimed in the wrong direction. A kitty tormentor might, for example, stalk and attack your poodle when the dog least suspects it. Your cat could also swat humans who get close, bite other occupants of the house, or even lie in wait and ambush another animal near the feeding dish. Watch for whether your cat seems to be mistreating others in the house.


Give your cats more space

White cat sitting on chair in bedroom RF Pictures / Getty Images

Since a lot of what humans identify as bullying behavior is triggered by overcrowding, the first thing you might try is to give your pets more space. As a rule, mammal pets enjoy extra room to stretch out, and cats can be territorial. Consider letting indoor cats explore the yard to give them a little breathing space. Make the garage accessible to them. Consider whether you have too many animals in a confined space.


Create a safe space for your cat

Kitten playing in a tree cat toy lisegagne / Getty Images

Assuming you can't open the palace gardens to your feline majesty, do the next best thing and make the space you do have fun to be in. Cats like to climb and hide, and they even like to run around indoors. If you can set aside a corner of a room to build a cat run, you might see a dramatic reduction in feline bullying in your house.


Include distractions in the environment

Young woman playing on the bed with her cat PhotoAttractive / Getty Images

Adding toys and other distractions is a development of the cat run approach. If your cat's negative behavior comes from boredom, the solution is less of that and more fun. Cat-appropriate toys, yarn, fuzzy things that are fun to bite, and all sorts of other toys can help cats manage the stress of dealing with each other, with dogs in the house, and even putting up with humans nearby.


Police your cat's behavior

Cat hunting to mouse at home scaliger / Getty Images

Part of the fun of cats is that even the nicest ones will still swat a little, and they love to sit on the stairs and scare the dog away from coming down them. Benign things like this are fine, but you have to get involved if you're seeing claws and biting.


Yes, you can keep a spray bottle

Cute gray cat lying on the table in the kitchen

When a cat starts up with bad behavior, especially if there's a chance it could hurt a child or pet, you can use the spray bottle. Keep room temperature water in a cheap plastic bottle near you when the cat is around, and give a spritz in the cat's direction when the tyranny beings. Do not aim directly at your cat. Usually, the surprise of water in the air is enough to send a bad kitty running.


Lots of love

Animal Themes, Domestic Animals, Fur, Pets, Canada Linda Raymond / Getty Images

Giving your cat love is never a bad thing, and it might be enough to overcome negative traits like bullying. Hugs and extended petting sessions are good, and cats can let you know when they've had enough for the time being. Generally, just make yourself available when your kitty wants attention, and you may notice a reduction in the amount of negativity you have to deal with later on.


When to talk to your vet

Woman Holding Cat At Animal Hospital Manuel De Los Reyes Rubio / EyeEm / Getty Images

Sometimes an issue goes beyond what you can solve on your own, and you need professional help. If your cat has become dangerous to other living things in the house, or if there's actual damage to property beyond normal amounts of scratched drapes, you might need help from the vet. Your vet can often diagnose the causes of bullying in cats and may suggest improvements, which might even include tranquilizers to keep things peaceful.


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