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I have two cats from the same litter that I adopted when they were around 12 weeks old. They are going to be a year old in two days, and as of recently I have been wondering if there's something wrong.

Chilli is the bigger and much more approachable one, while Luna is very quiet, petite and usually lets her sister be first in a lot of aspects.

Chilli as of recently started occupying Luna's favorite sleeping spots - ironing board, top of a wardrobe, armchair. This would be seen on various occasions and Luna would rarely sleep or rest in these spots afterwards.

I also caught my cats - from what it looked like - playfighting as any other cats would do, however I noticed that it is mostly Chilli that will 'attack' her first and it is also mostly her that will continue after a few second pauses. Today, I was doing my stuff in the bathroom when all of a sudden Luna meowed, very likely asking me to open the door for her. After a few seconds I opened the door only to find that Chilli was literally sitting on top of her and was licking her face. Luna looked extremely uncomfortable and jumped out of Chilli's grasp in a matter of seconds. On several occasions, Chilli would approach Luna and attempt to clean her, however Luna would usually resort to escape.

Although there are times when even Luna sleeps beside Chilli and cleans her, should I be concerned about how Luna is treated by her sister? Oh and also, I think it's valuable to say that Luna is the cat that rubs against the house members' legs and some other furniture, while Chilli does not do this at all. Lastly, my mother spotted that they rarely eat together when given wet food, and that is something that did not happen before. Chilli becomes uninterested with the food when she sees Luna eating it. Chilli would usually eat after Luna is gone and not in the surroundings.

Overall, is there anything that suggests that my cat is bullying her sister, and if yes, is there anything I can do to approach this problem?

  • Is Chilli a calico, by chance? – KittyConsultant Apr 14 '16 at 18:37
  • Nope, both are bombay – D. Tunus Apr 14 '16 at 18:42
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Yes, it sounds like you could have a little bit of a dominance issue. Unlike dogs, who tend to be all dominate or all submissive, cats tend to be dominate over certain things. For example: In a two cat household, one cat could be dominate over food, while the other is dominate over the litter box. In your case, it sounds like Chilli is dominate over sleeping areas, and Luna is dominate over food.

FEEDING: One of my cats is dominate over food. I make sure to feed them in separate bowls, across the room from each other. My cat prefers to have a clear view of the dominate cat because she will not eat unless she sees my other cat eating. You will need to figure out if Chilli wants to see Luna eat or have her view obstructed so she doesn't see her while eating. This will determine where you place the bowls.

CAT TREE: Now, on to your original question. I would first recommend a tall cat tree (at least 5 ft tall) with several levels. If you have 2 floors, put one on each floor. Cats will tend to establish a natural dominance on the tree by who sleeps on what level. This also gives both cats a place to sleep in the same location. If Chilli sleeps on the top level, she likely will not bother Luna on a lower, "inferior" level. Luna will not care that she is on a lower level, as long as Chilli leaves her alone. A good, quality cat tree can be a little expensive, but it could be worth it to have peace in the house.

PLAYTIME: This area is a little more difficult to diagnose. Cats are going to play fight, and ears will even go back now and then. However, from your description, it does sound like there could be an issue. I actually have the same issue with my two cats (both girls but not siblings). I found that my more submissive cat (during play) likes when I "get on to" my dominate cat. I let them play until I see my submissive cat's ears go back and stay back. Then, I say my dominate cat's name sternly, and I might add "No" (not yelling, just sternly enough for my cat to know I'm not going to be happy if she continues). The dominate cat pauses, which gives a chance for my other cat to get away. If I'm in another room when this happens, my submissive cat has learned to hiss when she needs my help to get away. At which time, I sternly say my dominate cat's name. I don't even have to see their fight because it's the only time my cat hisses. It's quite funny because sometimes she'll use the hiss just to get the upper hand and then attack my dominate cat. So, you could try something similar, but it means you have to watch your cats' body language carefully to know the difference between playing and 'enough is enough.' It's important that you don't yell at or act mad toward your kitty for something they would normally do in the wild. They will not understand. You can teach them, however, at what point you would like them to stop fighting. By the way, grooming is sometimes a distraction technique by a more submissive cat - as in, "If I groom you, maybe you'll forget about attacking me."

LITTER BOX: You didn't mention this, but also watch the litter box area when Luna is using it. Make sure that Chilli isn't waiting for her to get out. What may look like play, around the litter box, could actually be "ambushing." You would try to solve this by adding another litter box in a different location or having more than one exit from the litter box area.

SHOULD YOU WORRY: No. Your two kitties are at the age where they are no longer kittens cuddling together, helping each other through the unknown, scary world. They are wanting their own space, at times, and are figuring out their own rules of the house. This is a normal stage. I would suggest helping them with their "rules" by stopping any over-dominance situation (i.e., anything you think would make one of your cats fearful of the other).

I hope this helps a little. Best wishes to you and your kitties!

  • Looks good to me. Mine are 7 years old or so, and since I've seen both of them occasionally provoke the other I figure they've mostly worked it out themselves. And when Harry tries to assert dominance and Hazel objects, I'll often find them grooming each other a few minutes later. Nobody gets along with their siblings/housemates all the time... – keshlam Apr 14 '16 at 20:49
  • This is a great answer, thank you a lot. I will strongly negotiate with my mother regarding the food plates as we currently only give them one plate per meal (this is because they tend to eat enough equally from one plate, and using two would be a waste according to my mother). Our kitchen is fairly small and I doubt my mother will be keen on moving the food area somewhere else to get more space to try what you suggested. About the cat tree... We have a quite tall cat tree which both of my cats enjoy. There are three top platforms, two of them have walls around them so they're the ones my... – D. Tunus Apr 15 '16 at 9:27
  • cats usually sleep in. Surprisingly, Luna sleeps on the very top platform every time I see her on the cat tree. In regards to the litter box, I will definitely see for myself whether there's a problem in this area. I tend to work upstairs so I don't see them around the litter box often, but my mother noticed that one of the cats would wait for the other one. She claims she definitely saw Chilli wait on an occasion, then Luna waiting on another occasion. But regardless, once again thank you for the help, I've learned a lot more about cats. – D. Tunus Apr 15 '16 at 9:32

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