Do Cats Get Jealous? What to Do About It?

Cats, by nature, are very territorial creatures. To a cat, “territory” isn’t just where they live. It’s anything they like enough to consider theirs whether it be food, toys or even you. Cats also do not like any change in routine so one forced on them can breed resentment.

If a cat feels like her territory is being challenged for ownership, she may behave negatively with aggression. She may arch and hiss to show her displeasure or even outright attack the object of her jealousy. She may try a different tactic, acting extra cute in hopes of regaining your attention. In any case, it’s important to understand your cat’s feelings, needs and wants.

So do cats actually get jealous?

Cats can’t tell us in words what they’re feeling, so we must surmise based on their actions. If a cat does not like someone or something, she will be very quick to let you know that. Like people, cats can experience a lack of confidence and insecurity that leads to jealousy.

They sometimes find themselves in a situation that might trigger jealousy. A new pet or person in the house might cause a cat to question their hierarchy. Anything that causes a cat’s favorite human to not pay enough attention to her can be irking. A cat may act out if she feels she’s not being given her due.

Why Do Cats Get Jealous?

Insecurity

An insecure cat feels that there’s only so much love to go around. These poor cats have often had bad experiences where they felt deprived or abandoned. She may fear being hurt again.

Lack Of Proper Socialization

Some cats just don’t have good manners. Just as a child needs to be taught good manners, a cat needs to be taught what proper behavior for a pet is through socialization. This is why a reputable shelter will have cats interact with other cats and people on a daily basis, so they don’t act like they’ve been raised by wolves.

Lack Of Enough Bonding Time

Sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. If you have work or school compounded with chores or tending to other responsibilities, your cat might not be getting the attention she needs. You may need to consciously carve out a niche in your schedule dedicated to kitty time. Do it. Not only does your cat need playtime and cuddles, you need a break to spend with your furry friend.

Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets

Aggression

A cat’s first reaction on being introduced to something they don’t like is to back away and try to make herself look bigger by arching and fluffing her fur. If this doesn’t work, she’ll whip out the claws. She may even try to bite the thing that’s bothering her. An action that doesn’t seem aggressive on the surface is when a cat stares at someone without blinking. They aren’t admiring; they are deciding if they should attack.

Going to the bathroom indoors

A cat may try to establish she’s in charge by “forgetting” to use the litter box. This could be simple territorial spraying or this could mean leaving numbers one through two where you’re sure to find them. The cat that does this is trying to tell you exactly what she thinks of the new situation.

Paying extra attention to their owner

Some cats are born pacifists, but even they get jealous. These cats deal with their feelings using the “more flies with honey” approach. They rub up against their favorite person and purr or vocalize like a hungry kitten or do amusing tricks in hopes that paying attention to their human will get them paid in kind.

Pushy behavior

Some cats just don’t do subtlety. If they see you paying undue attention to the object of their jealousy, they may literally come between you. This kind of cat is not shy about making it very clear what she wants.

Growling, hissing, or getting into a fight with another pet

Sometimes, the initial aggression can get out of hand. A cat that hisses or growls is saying “I’m not playing! I’m really mad now! Go away before I mess you up!” Someone who doesn’t take that hint could find a hissing ball of claws coming right at them. A cat that’s enraged past all rationality may even chase after a pet that has taken the cue to leave.

Trying to scare off strangers

Cats hate the unfamiliar. Unfamiliar people are no exception. A jealous cat may act aggressive towards strangers, trying to scare them away so she can have you all to herself.

Leaving the room

A cat who has suffered several emotional defeats might take on an attitude of hopelessness and withdraw. She may decide aggression is just a waste of energy and leave whenever presented with an object of jealousy, deciding it just isn’t worth her time.

How to Stop Jealous Behavior in Pets

None of this behavior should be encouraged or tolerated. If at all possible, you can get your cat used to the idea of another animal in the house by first giving them a towel with the other animal’s scent on it so the new animal will already seem familiar. Make sure everyone is getting equal attention.

If someone needs extra attention for some reason, you may have to make an extra effort to make sure the other doesn’t feel left out. Cats should be fed from separate dishes, but kept within eyesight of each other. Make sure there are plenty of toys to go around and everyone is involved in playtime. Understand and respect that your cat needs privacy and keep other animals away from her personal lair so she doesn’t feel threatened.

In the end, all you really have to do is let your cat know that you will always love her. That’s the easiest thing in the world.

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  • July 11, 2018
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.