Matriarchs of the Pride
Meowllo evewypawdy hope yous havin’ a gweat week. Well da Bloggin’ A to Z challenge modewators wuz here yesfurday and weez not been kicked out. Whew (runs paw across forehead) So we covewed 2 letters in one day, K fur Kittens and L fur Law. So today’s letter be M. Well lately there seems to be gweat discussion amung ow bloggin’ counterpawts on Facebook ‘bout whedder or not cats have a hierarchy; or as da doggy peeps call it…an alpha. So we fawt dat we wuld tackle dat subject today. Hmmmm this bloggin’ challenge sure has us duin’ a lot educational stuffs, huh?. Anyways, anypawdy hoo has evew owned a doggy knows da hooman needs to assert themselves as da alpha or there’s gunna be lots of purrawllems at their house. So duz da same hold twue wiff cats?
As you know there’s just Lexi and me. But before me mommy had sis Lexi and her 2 bwofurs. And mommy also fostered and always had a house full of kitties, so she can tell ya’ ‘bout whether or not cats have a hierarchy. But first lets take a look at the history of cats, both large and small. Even as late as the 1970’s scientists thought that the only social cat was the lion pride. Held together by it’s close matriarchal leadership where all the females share the duties of raising the young, hunting and feeding the pride and even fighting off intruders when their male is away. The only standard used to determine the results were those of the dog pack. But as anyone who has ever owned both cats and dogs know they are completely different and one can’t study cat behavior based on that of a dog.
More recent studies have shown that like lion prides the feral cat colony has a similar matriarchal hierarchy. So now we move into the house and look at the altered cats living under your roof. When all cats in the house have been spayed or neutered less attention is placed on the sex of the cats in determining who will be in charge. The humans in the house can also play a role in determining who gets to be Top Cat; we’ll tell ya’ more about that later. More often than not the top cat in the household is the one that’s been there the longest. In our house mommy makes sure that sissy remains in the top spot as she has been here longest. Cats living together will divide up territory within their house. That’s not to say that one cat won’t go into the territory of another such as pawdee boxes, water bowls, cat trees, beds, etc.. However these things are typically surrendered quickly when the top cat wants to claim them.
Typically the top cat is given a wide berth. Play time is a great time for watching the behavior of your cats and observing who is the head cat in your house. The lower cats look to the top cat for approval. The top cat usually is deferred to in every thing. All subordinates recognize the authority and experience of the top cat. Sometimes these behaviors are subtle. So subtle you might not even see them. When the top cat walks by a subordinate might flatten their ears, divert their gaze downward or drop on their side or belly to show submission. Subtle changes in the household can affect the fragile hierarchy of your little pride of house lions such as an illness in the cats (top cat especially) or a family member, a move, a new cat or kitten, or any number of other changes. You humans can help to keep the hierarchy in tact. How you ask? Well let me tell ya’.
It’s something mommy’s been doin’ for years to keep order in our house and make sure we get along. Mommy says it makes for introducing new furries and changes a whole lot easier. First recognize there is a hierarchy in your feline family and determine who is top cat. It’s not always the meanest or biggest. Mommy says she likes it to be the kitty who has been ‘round the longest cause subordinates will learn appropriate behaviors from them. Always refer to the top cat first in everything. Top cat gets fed first, petted first, greeted first, talked to first, and so on. We think you get the idea. And first does not mean that subordinates have to wait till the top cat is finished, it just means their plate is filled first, or set down first, they get the first treats and so on. Mommy says it’s sometimes hard especially if a subordinate is friendlier or more outgoing than the top cat because we’ll be the ones meeting you at the door. But mommy says ignore that and go straight to the top cat to greet and then everybody else. If you have a large feline family it helps to identify the rank of all cats and do the above in that order. It’ll for sure help keep the peace in your house. So we may not be called Alphas but we do have a hierarchy. It’s a fragile one but it exists.
Till da next time………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Dezi and Lexi
Mommys personal experience after years of being a cat owner, trainer, and rescuer.