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A cat sure has a lot of personality. Each cat will have different ways to show what they are feeling. You may start to notice that some of their behaviors are surprisingly similar to human’s display of emotions. Then, do cats get jealous like humans do? If so, how can you stop them from misbehaving?
Cats are territorial species of animals. They like to claim things as theirs, and not just toys and territories – even the owner can be claimed and fought over for. You might think this sounds endearing and adorable, but it’s only to an extent. Possessive cats can show undesirable behaviors and cause chaos in the house because of their ‘jealousy’.
Behaviorists are not certain if a cat’s sense of jealousy is exactly the same as human’s, and they suggest that it’s more of a competitive act. However, in the eye of most owners, the cat’s way of behavior is already considered as jealousy.
Let’s look at a few reason why cats act this way:
Domestic cats usually prefer stability and a safe, familiar environment. Just like the reason why humans get jealous, cats can become anxious when a stranger invades their usual space. So can cats get jealous or show jealous-like behavior? Very likely.
For instance, changes in surrounding that can provoke jealousy might be:
Naturally, if you have a newborn baby, it’s a lot of work taking care of him/her. This will deprive the cat of the time you spend with them. They might start to feel like you’re neglecting them, since you’re not playing or paying attention to them as much as you used to. This also applies to when you take in another pet such as a new dog, cat or any other animal. Your cat will sense new rivalry, thus becoming more aggressive towards the new member.
Not only do cats get jealous of humans, dogs and other cats, they can even find rivalry in inanimate objects. That’s because you’re currently too absorbed in other engagements to pay attention to your cat. They may be envious of your smartphone, TV remote or laptop. That’s why you might see them trying to swat the phone off your hand sometimes.
Poor socialization as a kitten may also cause a larger problem of cat jealousy and possessiveness. When a cat doesn’t know how they should act around other cats and animals, they will become too dependent on the owner. Since you’re the only one the cat can trust, they also want you to focus on them only.
Occasionally, stimulation is all the cat wants from you. If they see you’re doing something fun and they’re not involved in, they will insist on joining you. Your cat wants us to keep them from being bored by taking all of our attention.
Similar to how an addition of a new family member affects the cat’s feeling, an alter in a schedule that they’re familiar with can cause jealousy.
This is more common if you have more than one pet. Your cat realizes that they don’t have a bed or belonging of their own. Thus, they have to fight for ownership with the other pets.
There’s a high chance that your cat won’t hide their emotions from you – that’s probably something only humans do. If they are jealous, then the cat will visibly show you that they’re unhappy. These are a few ways to tell.
The most common behavior among jealous cats is displaying aggression such as growling, clawing and swatting the person/object. If they can’t get close to the target, you might see them with an arched back, hairs stand erect and hissing.
Another typical sign is invasion of your personal space. You can easily find them trotting over your laptop keyboard, or squeezing in between you and your baby. Even when you’re trying to do your job, they will still demand attention by sitting on you. Any owner can relate, right?
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On the other hand, cats that are fighting over their personal space and territory will urinate outside the litter box to mark their place. The place they urinate on might be random areas of the house.
But if you bring home a new dog, for instance, the jealous cat will pee on the dog’s toy or bed. This is a behavior that’s harder to discipline, so if your cat starts to show this sign, you need to take action immediately.
When cats get jealous, they can be troublesome and destructive. When you’re not around to stop them, they might vent their frustration by chewing on household items, knocking things over or scratching your furniture.
This not only destroys the tidiness of your home, but is also dangerous for the cat. They might hurt themselves if they knock over fragile items such as glasses and ceramic items, or chew on toxic plants.
Now that we’ve answered the question “do cats get jealous”, let’s look at a few ways to fix a cat’s jealous behavior if it gets undesirable.
If the cat only shows subtle possessiveness such as trying to be close to you all the time, you don’t have much to worry about. However, once they visibly display aggressions, it’s important to intervene right away in order to prevent them from being destructive. The process of disciplining can take a bit of patient and consistency, but you can definitely achieve a good result.
Here is how you can stop unwanted jealousy in cats:
As we’ve previously mentioned, there are quite a few causes to a cat’s jealousy. Take your time to find out which is the trigger that provoked the cat. By knowing the exact reason, it’s easier to tackle the problem.
Ask yourself a few questions regarding to possible reasons your cat can act that way:
If the cat’s jealousy is caused by the new family member, give them some time to adjust and get to know the person/pet. Make sure that the newcomer doesn’t invade the cat’s usual space, and that you’d still give enough attention to the feline.
Reward your cat with a treat when they’re near the new member, so they understand that there’s no harm here. It might take just a few days for them to get used to sharing you with others.
On the other hand, if the cat is jealous of an object like your phone or your laptop, see if you need to spend more time with your cat. They might be feeling lonely when you’re not interacting with them as much as usual.
However, if your schedule to play with them doesn’t change, then they just need to accept the fact that you have a life of your own.
One of the reasons why your fur baby is being possessive of you is because they’re unstimulated and have nothing fun to do. They come to you to find entertainment and a chance to play. When they realize they can’t get what they want, they will become destructive.
If you somehow can’t schedule the time to play with them regularly, find other ways to keep the cat occupied. You can buy interactive toys that will do the job for you. Having another cat can also reduce the chance of a bored feline in the house. Set up a climbing system around the house, or build a window perch for them to see the outdoors.
To eliminate any rivalry over personal space, you should give your cat an area that they can call their own. A cat tree or play corner where others have limited access to will be the best way to solve this problem. If you have another pet, feed your cat and the other separately. This space should also be off limits to newcomers to reduce the chance of any competition.
Do cats get jealous? We’re still not 100% certain, but behaviors similar to jealousy do exist. If your cat gets too possessive, it’s necessary to intervene right away. This is to ensure that your fur baby is always happy, but also for you to enjoy your personal life as well.
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