Although the cat is known to be an independent animal, it also happens to be possessive which can lead to jealousy-like behaviours. Is it anthropomorphism or can a cat really be jealous of other people and animals in the household? If not, how can this attitude be explained and what can be done to avoid undesirable behaviour?
Is a cat really jealous?
Jealousy as we experience it as humans implies a notion of envy towards something or someone we would like to have. It is a feeling involving cognitive mechanisms that we do not share strictly speaking with the cat. Indeed, while animals are obviously endowed with emotions such as attachment, joy, fear, etc. it is not proven to this day that they feel anger or jealousy as we can experience it. However, the arrival of a new individual in the home, animal or human, represents a change potentially causing stress, anxiety or disturbance for your cat. It may then be that he does his needs in the house or on the business of the newcomer, that he hides or does not allow himself to be approached, which may give the impression that he sulks but it is a human interpretation!
The cat, a territorial animal
We can never repeat it enough, yet it is a fact that explains many behaviors in cats that may seem incomprehensible or extreme to us. Indeed, when a new individual arrives at the house, he represents for the cat an intruder on his territory that he naturally perceives as a threat. This is a normal instinctive reaction for an animal as attached to its territory and its habits as the cat. This should therefore be described as a reflex of protection of resources, linked to the instinct of preservation, rather than jealousy itself.
What solutions are possible?
Finding solutions to the problem of “jealousy” in the cat depends on the situation and how it changes its environment and habits. For example, here are three possible scenarios:
Situation 1: My cat does not accept a new congener
In case you have adopted a new cat, this can actually be experienced as a genuine intrusion for the former. In general, cohabitation will be facilitated when it comes to a kitten because the adult cat does not perceive it as a direct rival. It is very important not to put it aside, even if your attention is caught by your new hairball! Don’t change his habits: keep feeding him at the same time, in the same place and don’t let the new cat access his bowls. Similarly for litter, it is imperative to install a second bin, at least at first, until your cat accepts cohabitation.
Even if you dream that your two cats are sleeping with your paw in your paw, don’t force things and install for each of them a place to sleep and hide, as well as separate and separate bowls, if possible in different rooms. This will close the doors at mealtime, so that everyone has their privacy and is not stressed by the presence of the other as a potential danger to their ration! It is essential that everyone can sleep and eat serenely.
By respecting these simple precautions, you will avoid stress and annoyance to your cat but also to the newcomer, for whom finding his place in the house is not easy either.
Situation 2: My cat does not accept my new partner
Like adopting a new cat, the arrival of a new human in your home – friend, partner or even roommate – can pose a threat to the comfort and habits of your pet. Again, it is important not to disturb them in terms of pace and location. Leave his bowls and sleeping areas in the same place, and be careful not to allow him access to the room if he used to sleep with you! If your friend or roommate is resistant to having a cat in his or her room, try to discuss it clearly and find solutions together. If it’s complicated, consider a gradual change and get a soothing pheromone diffuser (Feliway) to help your cat accept it.
Another important point is to continue to provide love and attention to your pet, trying as much as possible to keep the moments of play and cuddling. Your spouse will have to find the right distance with him, so that he does not feel invaded, until your cat has accepted it!
Situation 3: My cat can’t stand the arrival of my baby
This last case is not the least because the birth of a baby inevitably leads to a real upheaval in the rhythm of the house. First of all your cat will be surprised to see, hear and feel this little being especially if it is the first human he meets. When the baby arrives home, do not hide it from your pet but introduce him to him so that he can identify the smell. If it is normal to deny him access to the room without your supervision, let him go around when you are with your baby so that he becomes familiar with him and does not feel excluded.
Even if your baby’s needs are the priority, remember to pay attention to your cat when you can, try not to skip his meals and avoid moving his belongings after birth. The arrival of the baby makes changes in the environment inevitable, however, do what is necessary to anticipate them before giving birth so that the cat does not make a direct link between the upheavals he is experiencing and the appearance of the baby. Make the changes little by little, spare him high-rise observation points and small corners that will stay yours.