Do Cats Try To Dominate Their Owners?

Are you a cat owner who has heard the term “dominant cat” thrown around before? You may have even wondered if your own feline friend is trying to assert their authority over you. But is this really the case? Do cats try to dominate their owners, or is it simply a myth?

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the topic of cat dominance and explore what it means for our furry companions. We’ll start by defining dominance and how it applies to cats specifically. Then, we’ll examine some of the reasons why cats might exhibit behaviors that seem like attempts at domination.

You may have experienced your cat scratching furniture or biting you, which can be interpreted as signs of dominance. But are these actions really indicative of a power struggle between pet and owner? We’ll take a closer look at these behaviors and what they could actually mean.

Of course, we can’t discuss cat behavior without consulting the experts. We’ll share insights from professionals in the field about whether or not cats truly attempt to dominate their owners. Plus, we’ll provide tips on how to handle a “dominant” cat if you’re experiencing behavioral issues with your furry friend.

Whether you’re an experienced cat owner or considering adopting one soon, this post will give you a thorough understanding of feline behavior and help unravel the mystery of cat dominance. So come along with us as we explore this intriguing topic and learn more about our beloved feline friends.

What is Dominance?

One term that frequently arises in the pet world, particularly with cats, is dominance. But what does dominance truly mean when it comes to our feline companions?

Dominance is a complex and multifaceted concept that can vary depending on the animals involved and the specific situation. It refers to an animal’s attempt to exert control or power over another animal or even a human. In cats, some people believe they try to dominate their owners. However, this isn’t always accurate as cats are not social animals in the same way humans or dogs are.

While cats may have their own ways of communicating and asserting themselves, they don’t necessarily require social hierarchies or dominance as other species might. Instead, most cats view their owners as partners and companions rather than subordinates or rivals. Behaviors such as rubbing against your legs or nuzzling you are often interpreted as territorial marking or affectionate gestures rather than attempts at domination.

It’s also worth noting that aggressive behavior towards their owners, such as biting or scratching, is often due to stress, fear, or frustration rather than a desire for dominance. Owners must observe their cat’s body language and behavior to identify the root cause of any aggression and address it through positive reinforcement training or seeking guidance from a professional behaviorist.

So if dominance isn’t always relevant for understanding cat behavior, what should we focus on instead? One key is to pay attention to your cat’s unique personality and needs. Each cat is distinct and has their own preferences and quirks. By taking the time to get to know your cat and providing them with love and attention, you can establish a strong bond and ensure that they feel secure and comfortable in their home.

Cats and Their Social Structures

Cats are fascinating creatures with their own unique social structures. Unlike dogs, they don’t have a clear alpha or dominant cat in their hierarchy. Instead, they establish their social order through subtle communication and body language.

In a multi-cat household, cats may establish a hierarchy based on age, gender, or personality. However, this hierarchy is often flexible and can change depending on the situation. For example, a younger cat may submit to an older cat during meal times but may be more dominant during playtime.

When it comes to their relationship with humans, cats don’t try to dominate us in the same way that dogs may try to establish dominance. Instead, they view us as equals or companions. However, cats may exhibit behaviors such as rubbing against us or sitting on our laps as a way to mark us as their territory.

It’s important for cat owners to understand their cat’s behavior and social structure to create a harmonious household. Providing each cat with their own resources such as food and water bowls, litter boxes, and sleeping spaces can help prevent competition and conflicts between cats. Additionally, providing plenty of vertical spaces such as cat trees and shelves can give cats space to establish their own territories and reduce stress.

Are Cats Trying to Dominate Their Owners?

However, they do have their own unique social structures and ways of communicating that can sometimes be misunderstood as attempts at control.

For instance, when a cat rubs up against its owner’s legs, it’s actually a sign of affection and a way for the cat to mark its owner as a safe and familiar presence. Similarly, when a cat kneads its owner with its paws, it is usually a display of contentment and relaxation rather than an attempt at dominance.

However, there are some behaviors that may cause concern for cat owners. If a cat bites or scratches during play, it could be an indication that the cat sees its owner as prey or subordinate. Additionally, if a cat urinates outside of the litter box or engages in destructive behavior, it could be related to stress or anxiety over feeling like it doesn’t have enough control over its environment.

It’s important to remember that cats are not capable of conscious power plays like humans might engage in. Instead, their behaviors are typically driven by natural instincts or underlying emotional issues. By understanding these behaviors and addressing any underlying issues, cat owners can create a happier and healthier relationship with their feline companions.

Common Misconceptions about Cat Dominance

However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Cats are solitary animals by nature and do not rely on a hierarchical structure for survival as dogs do. They do not see their owners as part of their social group but rather as a source of food, shelter, and affection. Therefore, the concept of dominance does not apply to them in the way it does for dogs.

Another misconception is that cats show dominance through aggressive or destructive behavior. However, this is not true either. While cats may scratch furniture or bite when they feel threatened or scared, these behaviors are often a result of stress or anxiety. They are not a sign of dominance.

It’s important to understand that cats do not have the cognitive ability to understand power dynamics or social hierarchies. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that a cat would attempt to assert dominance over their owner. Instead, they communicate through body language and vocalizations to express their needs and desires.

Signs of Possible Aggression in Cats

However, it’s important to recognize that cats can display signs of aggression towards their human companions. Identifying these behaviors early on is crucial to prevent any harm to both you and your beloved pet.

One of the most common signs of aggression in cats is hissing and growling, which is often accompanied by a puffed-up tail or arched back. This indicates that your cat feels threatened or defensive and may lash out if they feel cornered. Additionally, biting or scratching during playtime or handling is another warning sign. Some cats may even stalk, pounce, or attack their owners without warning.

It’s important to note that not all aggressive behavior in cats stems from dominance. In many cases, fear or anxiety may be the underlying cause, especially if your cat has had negative experiences with humans in the past. Therefore, paying attention to your cat’s body language and behavior is essential in determining the root cause of their aggression.

Other possible signs of aggression in cats include dilated pupils, flattened ears, and a tense body posture. Your cat may also vocalize loudly or display their teeth as a warning sign before resorting to physical aggression.

If you notice any signs of aggression in your cat, take them seriously and seek professional help if necessary. A veterinarian or animal behaviorist can provide guidance on how to address the underlying causes of the aggression and prevent any future incidents. In some cases, medication or training may be recommended to help manage your cat’s behavior.

How to Address Aggression in Cats

However, it can be concerning when your cat displays aggressive behavior towards you or other pets. Aggression in cats can be caused by various factors such as fear, anxiety, territoriality, and even medical issues. Therefore, the first step in addressing aggression is to identify the root cause. Here are five ways to address aggression in cats:

Identify the Underlying Cause

Aggression is often a response to a perceived threat or discomfort. Therefore, it’s essential to identify the root cause before addressing behavioral problems. Take your cat to the vet for a check-up to rule out any potential medical issues that may be causing the aggression.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Cats are naturally curious and active animals. Boredom and pent-up energy can lead to aggressive behavior. Providing your cat with enough mental and physical stimulation can help prevent this behavior. This can be done through interactive playtime, puzzle toys, and creating a stimulating environment with scratching posts and climbing structures.

Use Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding good behavior with treats or praise, rather than punishing bad behavior. This can help your cat learn what is expected of them and encourage them to exhibit the desired behavior. For instance, rewarding your cat with treats or affection when it displays calm and non-aggressive behavior can help reinforce good behavior.

Provide a Safe Space

Cats are territorial animals and need a space where they feel safe and comfortable. Providing your cat with a designated area where it can retreat to when it feels threatened or anxious can help reduce aggressive behavior. This can be achieved by setting up a cozy bed or hiding place in a quiet room away from other pets or people.

Seek Professional Help

If your cat continues to display aggressive behavior despite your efforts, it may be necessary to seek the help of a professional animal behaviorist. They can work with you and your cat to identify the underlying cause of the aggression and develop a personalized plan to address it. In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage the aggression.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Walk In Front Of You Herding Explained?


To sum it up, the notion of cats trying to dominate their owners is a widespread misconception. While dominance is prevalent in the animal kingdom, cats don’t see their owners as subordinates or rivals but rather as partners and companions. Behaviors such as rubbing against your legs or nuzzling you are often signs of territorial marking or affectionate gestures rather than attempts at domination.

As a cat owner, it’s crucial to comprehend your feline’s behavior and social structure to create a peaceful household. Giving each cat their own resources and ample vertical spaces can help prevent competition and conflicts between them. Moreover, recognizing potential signs of aggression in cats is vital to avoid any harm to you or your beloved pet.

If you observe any indications of aggression in your cat, take them seriously and seek professional assistance if necessary. Identifying the underlying cause of the aggression is imperative before addressing behavioral issues. Positive reinforcement training, providing mental and physical stimulation, creating safe spaces, and seeking professional help are some ways to tackle aggression in cats.

By understanding our furry friends’ individual personalities and requirements, we can establish a robust bond with them and ensure that they feel secure and comfortable in their home.