Why Is My Cat Scared Of Other Cats?

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Does your cat seem fearful of other cats? Are you noticing signs of anxiety when they are exposed to other cats?

There are 6 notable causes of fear for cats when it comes to their interaction with other cats. 

Keep reading to learn more about how you can tell if your cat displays signs of anxiety, and how to work through it!

Six Reasons Why Your Cat is Afraid of Other Cats

Intruders to her territory

Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, she will definitely assume some territory as her own. Having this territory intruded upon by other cats can be intimidating to your cat.

She may feel unsafe in her area when unwelcomed cats meddle. 

Cats tend to have strong boundaries for having their home turf and personal space and may not take too kindly to have trespassers. This can lead to anxiety.

Shared living quarters 

In houses with more than one cat, it can be difficult for some cats to compete for things like food and water.

Your cat may feel apprehensive towards the other cats in the home if she feels like she’s being challenged or pushed around by other cats.  

Places to sleep and relax are essential, as well. While some cats are content to spend all their time together, a cat with anxiety would likely benefit from having a quiet area of her own.

Personality types

This is especially true if your cat is timid or if there are cats with a bold demeanor. Being near a cat with a stronger personality can be daunting to a more mellow cat. 

Even when the extroverted cat is trying to be playful, this behavior may not be acceptable to your cat and could be perceived as aggression.  

Social anxiety 

The presence of other cats can be enough of a trigger. Some cats experience fear from simply being around another cat. Most likely, social anxiety is caused by a lack of exposure to other cats.

Sometimes, cats can be very anxious and may prefer to be left alone entirely for no apparent reason.

Fear of the unknown 

Generally, it’s common for your cat to be skittish around unfamiliar people and animals. Not knowing what to expect can be a scary ordeal for a cat. 

Cats are indeed creatures of habit and sometimes feel afraid of new situations. Your cat could be jumpy simply because she hasn’t had any experience with other cats.

Negative experience with other cats 

There could be a link between an event in your cat’s history and their fear of other cats. If your cat has had a negative experience with another cat, like being attacked, that could be enough to cause lasting effects. 

This can also be true if your cat has been in an environment where she had limited access to food, shelter, or even attention. 

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Do cats have a pecking order?

Do cats have a pecking order

All members of the feline family, from lions to domesticated cats, do have a social structure. 

Somewhat similar to a pride of lions, the structure varies between males and females, as well as feral cats and house cats. 

For example, in a group of cats with a single female, she will likely be in charge. In a group of male cats, the largest typically takes the lead.

However, this isn’t true in all cases, as personalities vary so much with cats. The loosely followed social order leaves some room for independence in groups of cats, since there are no set rules, per se. 

It’s about the time spent together

Generally, the cats being familiar with each other has more to do with their interactions than any other factor. Routine exposure helps cats to develop their position in the group.

 A cat who has had time to learn how other group members behave will be more comfortable with cats in general.

A cat who has grown up alone, on the other hand, will have a more difficult time adjusting to a social structure that includes other cats.

Additionally, domesticated cats have more or less learned to live without the herd, as humans have become their social structure.

When introducing a new member to the existing social structure, it can be a challenge for your cat to accept the change. 

Cats prefer predictability in their routines and might have difficulty adapting to another cat’s personality or habits.

Such a shift in her environment can lead to competition, aggression, and anxiety when it impedes the independence or boundaries of your cat.


Three signs your cat is afraid of other cats

Hiding from or avoiding the other cat 

If you notice your cat acting elusive toward the other cat, this is a sign of apprehension.

Like how our brains function, cats, too, have fight or flight mode when in fear. Cats will often hide under beds, behind furniture, or something similar. 

Separating herself from the perceived threat by staying hidden is a definite symptom of anxiety. Your cat is doing this to get away and feel safe in a more enclosed or dark space.

Being hidden provides a sense of security to cats.

Increased respiratory rate, tail flicking, and other subtle hints 

Commonly, one of the first symptoms of discomfort or anxiety in cats is their tail flicking in reaction to seeing or being near the other cat.

This could be a slight flick of the end, or the somewhat dramatic flailing in times of distress.

You may have even noticed your cat breathing more quickly. Increased respiratory rates are one of the most telling signs of anxiety.

Dilated pupils, hair standing on end, and tucking the tail are a few more clues of stress.

Behavioral changes, like increased aggression or becoming antisocial 

If you notice your cat acting unusual since adding a cat to your family, this could be anxiety-related. Examples included aggression, decreased appetite, and fewer social interactions

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For instance, if your cat was normally outgoing and has been scarce since adding a new cat, this could be a symptom of anxiety.

Similarly, changes in eating habits are a tell-tale sign of anxiety. She might be uncomfortable sharing food with a new cat.


How to help your cat cope with its fear of other cats

How to help your cat cope with its fear of other cats

Give them space 

Allow your cat to have an area of their own, away from other cats. This can be a small corner in a room, an empty box only for her, or any place she feels safe. It can be helpful to have a place with privacy.

A few more things to consider for individual use include food and water dishes, as well as litter boxes.

The more options available to your cats, the more comfortable she will feel overall if she’s having anxiety related to other cats.

Watch for signs of bullying or aggression from other cats 

The fear may be warranted. In this case, the behavior of the threatening cat may need to be addressed. The other cat might not even mean to seem aggressive.

Maybe their version of play is too rough, or maybe your cat is older and has less interest in playing

Other examples of potentially aggressive behaviors include blocking your cat from having access to food, water, or the litter box, or not allowing your cat to enter or leave a room.

This is the other cat asserting dominance, as he has control over things your cat needs or her ability to remove herself from the situation.

Desensitize with social interaction 

Expose your cat to socialization in a slow, methodic way. 

Introduction to other cats ideally should be done at your cat’s pace to avoid as much discomfort as possible. Start slowly, introducing one cat at a time.

Using encouragement and treats can help tremendously! Methods of distraction can also help, like showing your cat affection or playing with them while the other cat is nearby.

Creating a calm or playful environment can help to ease tension between the cats and reduce your cat’s anxiety.

Be gentle and persistent 

It will likely take some time to overcome the fear caused by other cats. 

Use positive reinforcement consistently and try not to force your cat into situations that are too uncomfortable. Try to allow your cat to guide the experience by reading her anxiety cues.

If you have tried these or any other methods to ease your cat’s anxiety and she still is displaying symptoms, talking to a professional can help.

Your trusted veterinarian can offer advice or provide medication if your cat is having a hard time coping with anxiety. 

It’s hard for a cat to understand why she needs to change her behavior or that the change will benefit her. Using different techniques and lots of love, you can help your cat overcome her anxiety.

It might take some effort, but helping your cat to feel comfortable with other cats is worth it!