Like people, cats have different personality traits. One of those happens to be jealousy — or, at least, what looks like jealousy. In fact, it's probably your pet displaying some aggressive, competitive, or hierarchal tendencies in an attempt to get what they want, whether it's their favorite toy or extra head scratches.
Why Do Cats Get Jealous?
Just like some people, cats can become jealous if you are paying more attention to an object, person, or another animal than you are to them. Jealous cats often crave attention and are clingier than a standoffish cat.
Poor socialization as a kitten that leads a cat to become codependent on you, a sudden change in daily routine, or a new family member can all cause jealousy in a cat. A lack of personal space, beds, or other belongings can also encourage jealous behavior if a cat feels threatened by another pet.
Common examples of causes of jealous behavior in cats include the arrival of a newborn baby, changes to your cat's feeding schedule, or an increase in the attention that is paid to your cell phone, video game, or significant other. When you used to spend these times playing with your cat or its environment has changed so dramatically, jealous behavior may be triggered.
Signs of Jealousy in Cats
Typical "jealous" behaviors include hissing, growling, and swatting at an object that they are jealous of, such as your cell phone while you are holding it, are common symptoms. Jealous cats may also intrude on your personal space while you are holding a new baby or video game controller or attempt to sit on your lap while you cuddle with your significant other instead of them.
A jealous cat can also be more aggressive and start scratching or biting or even urinating outside of its litter box to make a point. Urine marking is one of the most problematic and frustrating behaviors a cat can have. Not only is it a sign that something is wrong with your cat, but it is difficult to clean and eliminate the odor from the marking. Some cats will simply spray onto walls and other vertical surfaces while others will squat and make urine puddles outside their litter boxes, on sofas, plastic bags, or even the item they are jealous of or an item a person they are jealous of uses regularly.
A cat might also show its jealousy through destruction, including chewing, biting, and shredding furniture, curtains, and other items. Items sitting on a countertop or table, such as a drinking glass or decoration, may be knocked over or broken as well.
How to Stop Jealous Behavior
Jealousy in a cat can be hard to manage, but there are still things you can do to eliminate or lessen the unwanted behaviors.
The first thing you need to do is determine what exactly is provoking these behaviors.
- Did someone new move into your home?
- Did you recently bring home a new baby or pet?
- Are you spending more time doing something you didn't use to spend time doing, such as playing a video game, looking at your cell phone, doing school work, or paying attention to a significant other?
Once you figure out the cause of the jealousy, you can address the problem.
The easiest way to decrease a jealous behavior in your cat is to simply spend more time with it. Get some interactive toys such as feather wands and laser pointers that will allow you to play with your feline friend and make it a point to seek out and pet your cat when you come home, and give it treats.
If you cannot completely avoid the person, pet, or item that your cat is jealous of, work on helping your cat adjust to the change. Reward your cat with treats, praise, attention, and petting when they are near what they are jealous of and try to incorporate your cat into the change whenever possible. For example, hold the new baby while also petting or playing with your cat or having your significant other give your cat treats and feed them at mealtime.