The Struggle for Dominance

One morning last week I noticed Chris had blood on his face which I assumed was a result of a fight with Frankie.

I know it was Frankie and not Floki because those two have been in a struggle for dominance since the day we adopted Frankie over four years ago.

I learned long ago that the ancestor of the domestic cat was the African Wildcat. The males of that species tend to be loners so there is no need for an alpha but domestic cats have evolved, or have been bread, to live in groups. I don’t recall reading about the hierarchy of domestic cats but there does seem to be alphas and betas. Chris is definitely an alpha. You may recall the video of Chris the day we adopted him. Even though we had four other cats, Chris just took over the house.

Before Chris, Tigger was our “alpha” but he wasn’t really an alpha. We called him “The Accidental Alpha” because he seemed to bumble into the job, kind of like Baby Huey. You can see him around 38 seconds into the video just lying there watching Chris. I don’t know where our other three cats were but nobody came out to challenge Chris.

The first cat we adopted after Chris was Puck. When we brought Puck home Chris was happy to see him but Tigger avoided the meet and greet.

Frankie’s arrival was different and it caught us by surprise. We assumed Chris would be happy to have a new cat in the house since Chris loves everyone and everyone loves Chris. Not so. We introduced Frankie, as usual, exactly the wrong way. We never had a problem before so we assumed we never would. Frankie didn’t take over like Chris did but I think that Chris and Frankie both sensed a threat in the other. Maybe one alpha can tell another alpha right away.

The problems continued for several weeks.

It took about a month before the two of them could get along even a little and to this day they are like frenemies.

Puck, on the other hand was a good example of a beta cat. Chris and Puck got along very well and never fought because Puck always let Chris have his way. Sometimes I would catch Chris holding Puck down by the scruff of his neck and Puck would let him do it. I even saw Chris dragging him across the floor a few times like that.

Chris does that to Floki now too. I assume it is a way of showing him who the boss is. Even though Floki is not after the alpha job, he still struggles against Chris more than Puck did. Considering how badly he struggles when we try to clip his nails, I am surprised Chris is able to hold him down at all.

I had to cut the video short because I felt like I should separate them.

What about you? Do you have an alpha? Do you have two alphas? How about a female alpha?


25 thoughts on “The Struggle for Dominance

  1. 15andmeowing

    Poor Chris, that looks like it hurts. Sammy likes to prove his dominance over the girls by sitting on them and biting the neck. I guess that means he is the alpha.

  2. onespoiledcat

    Thank heavens we don’t have this drama in our household since Teddy is an “only”. I am convinced that he would not like to share his house (or us) with another cat though. It wouldn’t be pretty that’s for sure!! LOL


  3. weggieboy

    My two are brothers and have lived together pretty much their whole lives, with maybe 10 days separated for one reason or another. They periodically have squabbles, yet there seems to be a flexible heirarchy, where one is alpha male for the moment till the other takes over the position. They are pretty much equals

      1. weggieboy

        They do, though they periodically have to have a tussle to remind each other even brothers can have a disagreement about important points like who gets the recliner for the moment! They never hurt each other, though there are a few instances when one kitty walks away with his brother’s fur in his mouth. I can stop a squabble by clapping my hands once or shouting “Hey!” so they aren’t quite as rough as the late Louie the ginger cat. If Louie got in a fight, it took physically removing him from the fight, something that was a bit scary. (He was a rescue cat that had spent some part of his life fighting for survival.)

          1. weggieboy

            I’m sure it helped that they played well together as kittens. They have a brother and sister that another family took to South Dakota. By all reports, those two are mortal enemies!

  4. David

    A female alpha, I’ve had two. First one was Pebbles. She bossed around her littermate brother Dino. Second one was Egypt. Definitely an alpha. If Pebbles and Egypt lived under the same roof at the same time, there would’ve been several fights. Egypt took charge of the house when she arrived. When the Musketeers moved in, Egypt showed her dominance with a look. And, when Susie and Pinky came, Egypt had to teach them deference. Since Egypt’s passing, Pinky has been trying to become the alpha. She’s been able to convince Midnight and Susie, but not Maxie. He simply ignores Pinky in that regard. I suspect Maxie has become the alpha, but a low-key one. He can push aside the other three if he decides he wants to eat out of their bowl. Doesn’t matter if the same kibble is available nearby in another bowl.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      You have a soap opera in your home. šŸ™‚ We had a female, Princess, who was not really an alpha but she made it very clear that she did not want to bothered by anyone of the feline persuasion and all of our boys kept their distance from her. Our other female, Abbey, was shy and submissive to our four boys but she would deliberately invade princess’s space and seemed to taunt her like she was asking for trouble.

  5. Tel-Aviv's feral cats

    I have three female cats and one male. The girls hiss at each other several times a day. There are hissing contest and staring contests. And every once in a while there’s a swatting. Maybe Chris sees Frankie as an intruder.

    At least my cats’ hiss is worse than their scratch. They don’t really fight all that hard, and they usually leave the male, Chocolate Paws, out of it.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      I have noticed girls seem to fight girls more than boys fight boys. Chris and Frankie are an unusual pair, at least in our house. we had nine males and two females and the only other pair that fought was our two females, Princess and Abbey. Those two never became frenimies but stayed enimies always.


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