Male Cat Afraid of Dominant Female Cat
September 19, 2007 9:48 PM   Subscribe

My male cat is afraid to use his outdoor house because my dominant female cat has claimed it. How do I get him to re-claim his house? How do I get her to relinquish control of the house?

Background Info:

Male Cat: My male cat was a stray and is approximately 6 years old. I've had him for over 2 years. He is timid and skiddish but loves to cuddle. He is neutered.

Female Cat: My female cat was also a stray and is approximately 2 years old. She is affectionate and full of energy. I've had her for approx 1 year. She is spayed.

Both cats are primarily outdoor cats.

The frontyard and enclosed front porch is the territory of my female cat and she is dominant there. The backyard and the inside of the house used to be the territory of my male cat. He used to be dominant in his territory.

A few months ago I made the mistake of letting the female cat spend more time inside of the house. She suddenly decided that the inside of the house and the backyard were now her territories. She also decided that she was going to be the dominant cat in those territories.

Her personality has changed. She used to be very friendly and walk the neighborhood with several of my neighbors cats and play with the neighborhood children. Now she is obsessed with being inside the house and patrolling her territory.

My cats used to stalk each other and play fight in both the front and backyard. Now my male cat acts terrified of my female cat. He runs away whenever he sees her.

I have two outside bungalow style cat houses in the backyard. My male cat and his neighborhood buddy (she's female) usually use them in the Fall through Early Spring. It's important for my male cat to have access to the houses because we have frequent windstorms and rain October - March.

My female cat has a "katkabin" (which she has never used) in the front yard and a cat bed (which she frequents) inside of our covered porch in the front yard. She now uses both her bed in the front yard and both houses in the backyard.

I've sprayed down the cat houses with enzyme spray. I've petted my male cat and placed his scent inside both of the houses. I even moved the houses to different locations in the backyard. My male cat seems very interested in the houses when my female cat isn't around, but as soon as she shows up he runs away again.

I need advice on how to help my male cat stand up for himself and claim his space. Thanks in advance.
posted by alleycatd to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
My understanding is that female cats claim territory and male cats roam where they are allowed. It's generally to protect any kittens that may be around, but can also apply when they are neutered/spayed. Perhaps the solution is to let her have the space she claims and help him find a different safe spot. For instance, letting him go wherever she isn't.

Although, she may then try to claim that space, too. And they may work it out again before too long.

Best of luck to you and your kitties.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:19 PM on September 19, 2007

In my experience (owner of multiple cats for most of my life), female cats are the bad-asses of the domestic feline social structure. What your female is doing sounds pretty normal to me. The struggle for who is going to dominate whom is something you'll have to let your kitties work out on their own (and they will). Once they get through this phase, they'll coexist peacefully again.
posted by amyms at 12:20 AM on September 20, 2007

Cats are pretty good and finding places out of the wind and rain, even if they haven't been provided with an official habitat by a human. I remember when I was about 12 going out in a violent storm to rescue my cat. I ended up drenched through and quite distraught at being unable to find her. Of course she showed up twenty minutes after the rain ended, completely dry and happy.
posted by happyturtle at 1:17 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try spraying Feliway in the houses and around the area you want to be conflict free. It does seem to have an effect on territorial behavior and did a good job of stopping some territorial scratching & battles inside my house. You can get it in any pet store.
posted by tastybrains at 8:00 AM on September 20, 2007

Ahh. The old power struggle...!@#$% God, it makes me want to run away from home!! (My two sound very similar except they're littermates).

You have upset the balance of power, and now you must undo what you've done. Remember you're the Boss and they're the cat (*Repeats to self - I'm the Boss, they're the cats. This is on my fridge :) )

The following is all tough-love but sometimes they start thinking they're the boss... Fuck that. Banish the Haggis back to her old kingdom. I find water excellent for this! My Haggis hates being laughed at. When she's being a turd that always takes her down a peg or two. Think of them as a spoilt child.

And keep an eye out for backlash against the little man (he's older I know..) Show favoritism and also protect him. If that was the crux of her power, it would seem she was just overthrown. (Hey Kitty? Yes...) Whenever she's a good girl make a point of 'rewarding' it. When she's being a Haggis make her go outside, drench her with the squirty bottle - get all Walker, Texas Ranger on her ass when she's being nasty and thinks you can't see.... Show him it's okay and her it's just not fucking happening!!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:55 AM on September 22, 2007

Oh and become fluent in Cat Body Language too. It will help you no end!!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:58 AM on September 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the great advice.
posted by alleycatd at 10:27 PM on October 7, 2007

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