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Do cats get jealous if you pet other cats?

Do Cats Get Jealous?

Many pet owners assign human emotions and expressions to their furry friends as a joke. However, animals do behave in ways that express their emotions.

We can never truly know what an animal is thinking or feeling, and we also don’t know if what we perceive as emotion feels the same way to them as it does to a human. But animal behaviorists do agree that cats get territorial, and sometimes behave in a certain way to establish social dominance. This may result in behaviors that human observers perceive as jealousy.

Signs of Jealousy in Cats

Cat behavior that humans may perceive as stemming from jealousy includes:

  • Physically coming between you and the object they are jealous of
  • Hissing and growling
  • Swatting at an object
  • Scratching
  • Biting
  • Urinating/marking territory

If your cat does any of these behaviors, there could be any number of causes. Contact a professional to get their opinion and advice.

Types of Cat Jealousy

Cat specialists often define jealousy as different types of aggression.

Status induced aggression. This type of aggression in cats results from the unique social structure in cat behavior. They see themselves as more dominant than some people and animals, and less dominant than others. Another name for this is impulse control aggression. Signs of this type of cat jealousy include:

  • Blocking access to furniture or doorways
  • Making aggressive eye contact with a person
  • Rubbing on or spraying everything a certain person has touched
  • Soliciting attention but then biting or scratching when pet
  • Biting or scratching when a person tries to reposition or move them

According to experts, cats who can not tell whether a person is a genuine threat display this type of aggression. It stems from anxiety in the cat, and the resulting aggression is their attempt to remain in control of their environment.

Inter-cat aggression. This type of aggression is generally seen between two male cats, but it can sometimes be between cats of any gender and may be perceived as one cat being jealous of the other. However, curbing this type of aggression is easy. It is often hormone-related, so spaying and neutering your cats should nip it in the bud.

Territorial aggression. Like many animals, cats are territorial. That means, when they feel someone or something has invaded their territory, they may act aggressively. They may hiss at the «intruder» or even try to attack them. It could be another cat, a new baby in the household, or a guest they haven’t met before. In rare cases, it can happen if another cat of the household has been away, and then comes back.

Big changes to the cat’s environment, like a new roommate, or moving to a new home can also trigger this behavior. It may also happen when a kitten in the household reaches sexual maturity and is now seen as competition for resources.

Are Cats Jealous When They Sit on Your Laptop?

Many people think that cats are displaying jealousy when they try to get in between you and whatever you are doing. They tend to sit on your computer keyboard when you are trying to type, or put themselves in a book you are reading — literally. But is it jealousy?

Animal behaviorists say that a cat is trying to seek warmth, a good vantage point, or your attention when they exhibit this behavior. A cat’s body temperature is higher than a human’s, somewhere between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why they love warm sunspots and your cozy laptop.

Some also believe they do it because it smells like you, and they really like you since you are the one who gives them plenty of food and pets. So, they like anything that has your scent on it. People also believe that cats do it to mark their territory. Even if you are using it, they want you to know it’s still in their domain.

So, are cats jealous when they get between you and whatever you are doing? They may, in fact, be seeking your attention.

How to Deal With a Jealous Cat

If your cat is getting in between you and what you need to do, but is generally friendly, you can just move them to a new location. There are even decoy laptops to give your cat something nice to sit on while you get your work done. However, if you have an aggressive cat, you will need to take steps to protect yourself.

  • If the cat jumps on someone’s lap and then displays aggressive behavior, stand up and let the cat fall off instead of pushing it off.
  • If a cat is aggressively blocking your entry to a space or an object, walk away and ignore the situation until the cat loses interest.
  • Keep something on hand to distract the cat if they become aggressive.
  • Avoid situations that give the cat aggressive behavior.
  • Avoid giving the cat catnip.
  • Consider trying cat anxiety medication.
  • If two cats are aggressive towards each other, separate them, and then slowly reintroduce them to each other using positive reinforcement techniques.
  • Give treats to reinforce behaviors that are not aggressive.
  • Consult your veterinarian or an animal behavioral specialist for more advice.

Show Sources

Cornell Feline Health Center: «Feline Behavior Problems: Aggression.»

The Spruce Pets: «How to Solve Jealousy in Cats.»

Oaktown Animal Hospital: «Protocol for Understanding, Managing and Treating Impulse Controle/Status-Related Aggression in Cats.»

ASPCA: «Aggression in Cats.»

Paws: «Aggression Between Family Cats and Feline Social Behavior.»

PetMD: «Cats on Keyboards: Why They Love Them (and What You Can Do).»

Did you know your dog could get jealous?

Does your dog seem to act up when he sees you petting your friend’s pooch? Does he clamor for your attention even more when there are other canines nearby?

A new study revealed that this increased excitement might actually be how Fido lets you know he’s jealous of these other animals, the first time evidence has been found to prove jealousy is not an emotion reserved for humans.

Dr. Christine Harris, who studies emotion at the University of California at San Diego, told NBC News that her interest was piqued after playing with her parents’ pooches.

«As I was petting the dogs, what happened is that one dog would push the other dog’s head from out underneath my hand so that both hands were on him,» Harris explained to the news source.

So she, along with fellow researcher Caroline Prouvost, set out to learn more about this behavior. They studied 36 dogs while their owners paid attention to three separate objects while ignoring them. One of these objects was a stuffed dog that barked, and humans were asked to treat the toy like a real animal. The other two objects were inanimate, and jealousy with the first toy. They would snap their jaws, push the owner and the object, and try to put themselves in between the two.

This content is brought to you by the pet experts at Hartz.

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Do Cats Get Jealous

Cat looking jealous

Cats are finicky creatures. They have definite preferences for people and things. But do they get jealous over their favorites?

As cat owners, we often observe our cats displaying behaviors that we might interpret as jealousy. For example, when we give attention to another cat, pet or person, our cat might meow loudly, scratch furniture or even attack the object of our attention.

But do these actions really indicate jealousy, or is there another explanation for this behavior?

Do Cats Get Jealous

Cats will often display behaviors interpreted as jealousy when they perceive they are not getting what they need or that what they need is going to another animal or person.

Whether or not that is jealousy as it is experienced emotionally by people remains much debated.

So in this blog post, we’ll explore the question do cats get jealous and what factors contribute to their behavior.

The Science of Jealousy

Cat looking jealously at another cat

Before we dive into whether or not cats experience jealousy, let’s look at the science behind this emotion.

According to psychologist David Buss, jealousy is an evolved emotion that arises when one perceives a threat to an important relationship or resource. In humans, jealousy can take many forms, including romantic jealousy, envy and even sibling rivalry.

But what about in animals? While it’s difficult to determine whether animals experience emotions in the way humans do, studies show that many species exhibit behaviors that are similar to jealousy.

For example, in a study, conducted by Christine Harris and Caroline Prouvost, dogs were found to display jealous behaviors when their owners interacted with a fake dog toy. The dogs attempted to get between their owners and the toy and even snapped at the toy when it was given attention.

Do Cats Experience Jealousy?

Two kittens sitting together

So, what about cats? While there isn’t a clear consensus on whether or not cats get jealous, one study found 66 percent of cat owners report jealousy in their pets.

Many cat owners report that their cats display behaviors that seem to indicate jealousy, such as meowing loudly, hissing or even attacking other pets or people that receive attention. While these behaviors could have other explanations, such as fear or territoriality, they do suggest that cats may experience some form of jealousy.

Factors That Contribute to Cat Jealousy

If cats do experience jealousy, what factors contribute to this behavior? There are several possible explanations.

Attachment: Cats may become attached to their owners and other pets and feel threatened when attention is given to another animal or person.

Territoriality: Cats are territorial animals and can become possessive over their territory, including their owners.

Giving cats their own space to retreat to when they are feeling stressed or having conflicts with another can go a long way in making your cat feel comfortable in eliminating unhealthy behaviors.

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Social Hierarchy: Cats are social animals that form hierarchies within their groups. If they perceive another animal or person as a threat to their position in the hierarchy, they may become jealous.

Past Experiences: Like humans, cats’ past experiences often shape their behavior. For example, if they were mistreated by a previous owner, they may be more prone to display jealous behaviors.

Jealous Behaviors Can Have Other Causes

It’s important to note not all behaviors we interpret as jealousy are actually indicative of jealousy. Cats are complex creatures and their behavior is influenced by a multitude of factors. Some behaviors that may seem like jealousy, such as hissing or swatting, could be signs of fear, stress or even pain.

Therefore, it’s important to observe our cats’ behavior and try to understand the context in which it occurs. If we notice any concerning behaviors, such as excessive aggression or withdrawal, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

One jealous cat looking at the other

In addition, it’s important to create an environment that promotes positive interactions and minimizes stress for our cats. This can include providing plenty of resources, such as food, water, and litter boxes in separate areas for each cat, as well as offering plenty of playtime and attention to each cat individually.

It’s also important to recognize and address any potential sources of conflict between cats in a multi-cat household. This can include providing separate feeding areas, offering vertical space for cats to climb and perch and ensuring that each cat has their own space to retreat to if needed.


While it’s difficult to say for certain whether or not cats experience jealousy, there is evidence to suggest they do exhibit behaviors that are similar to jealousy.

Factors such as attachment, territoriality, social hierarchy and past experiences may all contribute to these behaviors.

As pet owners, it’s important to be aware of our individual cat’s emotions and to take steps to prevent jealousy, such as providing plenty of attention and resources for all of our pets. By understanding our cats’ emotions and behaviors, we can create a harmonious environment for our pets and ensure that they are happy and healthy.

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