What Is an Alpha Male Cat?

"I dare you to keep petting me."
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In the wild, the alpha male is king of the cat colony; others must defer to His Majesty. At your house, the alpha male thinks he runs the show. And maybe he does. If an alpha male cat isn’t pleased, he delights in letting you know.

Alpha Males

Alpha cats can be male or female. But the greatest number of cat fights and confrontations among feral cats involve unneutered males. Unneutered alpha males also stake out and claim larger territories than other types of cats.

Spot the Alpha

You can typically spot an alpha male cat because he’s the aggressive one in a cat-on-cat encounter. Feral cats often claim a territory in which they get their food. If an interloper comes in, the alpha male will act. The aggressive alpha cat typically approaches the newbie and sniffs his tail. The defensive cat usually reacts by backing away from the aggressor and will often flee. If not, a face-off occurs, and the alpha male won’t back down until either a full-on fight happens or the defensive cat breaks eye contact and flees.

Like to Control

If you own an alpha male, you’ll probably have a tough time training him. Alpha males don’t like to be controlled. If they're unhappy with a situation, they might bite you, meow loudly and often, and maybe even growl at you. If you try to pick up an alpha male who doesn’t want you to, he might scratch and claw you.

Petting Your Alpha Cat

If you’ve ever been in the middle of a petting session with your kitty only to have him suddenly scratch you, you likely have an alpha cat. Your alpha might have had enough petting. If this is the case, he usually gives you what he probably thinks are obvious signals. If you don’t pick up on them and continue petting him, he’ll likely scratch or bite you. An alpha cat who is done with the petting narrows his eyes, thumps his tail from side to side and gives your hand a sideways glance. This is a classic alpha cat move.

Bully Behavior

Because alpha cats thrive on bullying and being in control, domesticated cats who live alone with you will bully you. This behavior is evident in a cat who jumps onto your bed while you’re sleeping and bites you on the nose or foot to get you up to feed him. Your alpha male is probably not starving; he just wants to assert his dominance and get you to do his bidding when he wants. If you don’t want this to happen anymore, shut your bedroom door.

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