Understanding the Alpha Cat Syndrome

Many cat owners expect all cats to be friendly and easy to hold and pet. Each cat, however, has different characteristics; cat behavior varies from animal to animal, whether it's a male or female cat. When you see feline behavior that is generally aggressive and resistant to cat training, you may have an alpha cat. There are many clues from cat behavior that indicate that you're dealing with an alpha cat, and there are ways to minimize these behaviors through training.

The Behavior of the Alpha Cat

Alpha cats are natural leaders, and their actions make sense from that perspective. The alpha cat is often completely resistant to cat training- even more so than most cats- and they literally attempt to control or gain the upper hand in nearly every situation. These cats demonstrate their dissatisfaction with not getting their agendas met through behaviors such as biting their owners, meowing loudly and persistently, and even growling to protect food or toys. The aggression can escalate and turn into scratching and clawing when someone tries to pick the cat up. You'll see these behaviors typically when the cat hasn't been fed exactly when and where he wants, or when a human tries to remove food or a toy from the cat's grasp.

An alpha cat basically believes that she owns you, not the other way around. Cat behavior is often somewhat unpredictable, but in the alpha cat, you see more extreme feline behavior. The cat might demand attention one minute and then immediately become aggressive when he is done with the petting. This aggression manifests in a narrowing of the eyes, thumping the tail from side to side on the floor, and glancing sideways at the petting hand. This is such a common part of the alpha's cat behavior that it has the name, "petting-induced aggression".

Confrontation and Bullying

Many alpha cats actually bully their owners into a desired action. With an alpha cat, you might find yourself surprised at the way your cat is trying to manipulate you. This doesn't happen because the cat's needs are going unmet. This just happens because it is part of the cat's nature as an alpha. It is important to identify the situations where a confrontation might occur, and then avoid those situations as much as possible. Many alphas will bite their owners' nose or toes to get them up in the morning. If your cat exhibits this feline behavior, shut them out of your room at night, and create a bed for them in a separate room. Remember to always have water and a litter box available for your cat.

The alpha cat almost seems to thrive on confrontation and bullying. If you are in a situation where the cat is showing signs of dissatisfaction, it will only make it worse if you try to force the cat to tolerate the situation further. It is best to just remove the attention and be proactive in the cat training process.