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Old 11-21-2012, 10:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Does the cat hierarchy ever settle

So I was wondering... does the hierarchy in a multi cat household ever settle or is it constantly changing?

Last November we got our first cat Sophie who was 3 months at the time. Two weeks later we adopted her cage mate from the rescue, Anna, who was 4 months old. Sophie from the get go was top cat. There were no fights or anything but anna would always follow sophie's lead. Maybe because sophie was there first? I don't know. Anyways, in April we got our 6 year old ex queen/show cat, Sasha. After she became settled she was immediately boss because she was older and kept putting the younger ones in their place. Sophie was second in command and poor Anna was still bottom.

Fast forward to July when we moved into our new house. Everything was the same until we discovered the neighbour's cat was out all the time(the situation didn't end well and we ended up taking him to a shelter). Anna suddenly became super territorial, dominant and protective of me and the other cats. If the door was open and the screen was shut, she would try to break through the screen to kill him if me or the other cats where there(he frequently hung out on the porch). This continued for sometime and she became more and more dominant. That cat is now gone but she is still like this. She has moved from the bottom to top cat, Sasha is second and sophie is now at the bottom.

Is the hierarchy finally settled or will it change again at some point?
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This is my first time owning two cats, so I don't have much multi-cat experience, but I suspect it can change with aging or illess.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, you've had a LOT of changes/additions in a very short period of time. Add to that the fact that you have 3 females, and, well, I would expect some turmoil! Use lots of Feliway, play with everyone, and give it some time.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Basically it does, but any little change you make may impact it in some way. Something as simple as buying a new throw rug and putting it near a heat vent in the winter may cause a change in their sleeping hierarchy if low girl decides it's worth challenging over. The other thing that you will face is that cats don't really socially mature until 2-3 years old. That's the age when a younger one may challenge and older one that has been more dominant.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doodlebug View Post
Basically it does, but any little change you make may impact it in some way. Something as simple as buying a new throw rug and putting it near a heat vent in the winter may cause a change in their sleeping hierarchy if low girl decides it's worth challenging over. The other thing that you will face is that cats don't really socially mature until 2-3 years old. That's the age when a younger one may challenge and older one that has been more dominant.
Thats good to know. The condo I have now is only one tier(which is why I want a 3 tier one), and it's funny... Sasha thinks she owns it. Anytime anyone else is on it, she litterally will jump on it anyway and lay on top of them until they get uncomfortable and move. Sophie usually moves right away but anna usually challenges it. Her and sophie recently started to bond and she is trying to with Anna but anna resists (the only cat she actually likes is sophie). So I am thinking it is going to be a back and forth between anna and sasha for top cat. There isn't any fighting or anything, but you can tell they try to challenge each other a lot.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The other thing to bear in mind:

(1) Unlike dogs, cats do not run in packs, so they don't tend to have organized pack structures. I have never felt that anyone in my household was clearly "top cat"--it varies depending on the situation, just as it does w/ humans. IMO if you think you see a clear hierarchy you are reading into the situation what may not be there.

(2) Even dogs are less hierarchically oriented than most people (thanks to popular media) think. Again, it depends on the situation and the individual personalities--as with people, it's far more complicated than the "alpha" theories make it sound.

As long as no one is getting hurt, just let them sort it out.

Last edited by marie73; 11-21-2012 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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MowMow has always been the big cheese in our house. He's a fair and benevolent leader that shares his food and his sleeping space.... unless you **** him off. He has chased Book around and ripped into him like a monkey on a cupcake. He never leaves a mark and never draws blood, he just pins the boy down and makes him scream like a little girl.

When he's done he walks away as calm as can be and order is once again restored. He handles disciplining that little monster better than I ever could.
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