How do cats show submission to other cats? Cats are known for their social dynamics and hierarchical structures within their colonies or households.

When multiple cats share a living space, they establish a pecking order, often marked by various social interactions, including dominance and submission. This read will explore the fascinating world of feline behavior, how cats submit to other cats, the reasons behind these behaviors, and the implications for multi-cat households.

Feline Social Hierarchy

Cats are solitary hunters by nature. However, they can also form social groups and hierarchies when circumstances demand it, such as in colonies of feral cats or households with multiple cats. Establishing a social hierarchy helps cats reduce conflicts and allocate resources efficiently, such as access to food, resting spots, and territory.

Within a group of cats, a clear social hierarchy emerges, often comprising dominant and submissive individuals. Dominant cats assert authority and control over resources, while submissive cats display deference and cooperation to maintain peace within the group.

Signs of Submission in Cats

Cats use a variety of behaviors and body language to communicate submission to other cats. These signals are essential for reducing tension and preventing conflicts.

Here are some common signs of submission in cats:

  1. Avoidance and Retreat: Submissive cats often avoid confrontations with dominant cats. They may retreat or move away from dominant individuals to defuse potential conflicts.
  2. Low Body Posture: A cat showing submission typically adopts a typical or crouched body posture. They may cower or appear smaller by lowering their head and tucking their tail.
  3. Tail Position: A submissive cat’s tail may be held low or tucked between their hind legs. A raised tail can be seen as a sign of confidence and dominance.
  4. Ears Back: Submissive cats may flatten their ears against their head, a clear sign that they are trying to avoid provoking a dominant cat.
  5. Avoiding Eye Contact: Direct eye contact is common for cats to assert dominance. Submissive cats often avoid making eye contact with dominant individuals to avoid confrontation.
  6. Grooming Behavior: Cats engage in mutual grooming to reinforce social bonds and reduce tension. A submissive cat may groom a dominant cat as a sign of respect and cooperation.
  7. Allowing Dominance Displays: A submissive cat may allow a dominant cat to display behaviors such as scent marking, rubbing, or vocalizations without reacting aggressively.
  8. Non-aggressive Vocalizations: Cats may use soft and non-threatening vocalizations, such as chirps or trills, to communicate submission and appeasement.
  9. Rolling Over: Some cats will move onto their back and expose their belly to a dominant cat as a gesture of submission. However, this can also be a defensive posture, so it’s only sometimes a straightforward sign of submission.
  10. Sharing Resources: Submissive cats may willingly share access to resources like food, water, or favored resting spots with dominant cats.

Reasons Behind Submission Behavior

Understanding why cats show submission to other cats requires considering various factors and motivations. Here are some reasons behind submissive behaviors in felines:

  1. Resource Competition: Cats may exhibit submission to avoid conflicts, litter boxes, or cozy resting spots. By deferring to the dominant cat, they reduce the risk of confrontations and maintain access to these resources.
  2. Avoiding Aggression: Submission behaviors help prevent physical fights and injuries within the cat group. Cats are often skilled at reading each other’s body language and signals, and submission cues serve as a way to communicate non-aggressively.
  3. Maintaining Group Cohesion: Maintaining peace and cohesion within the group is crucial for survival in multi-cat households or feral cat colonies. Submission behaviors contribute to a harmonious social environment.
  4. Bond Reinforcement: Mutual grooming and other submissive behaviors can help strengthen social bonds among cats within the same group. Grooming each other is a sign of trust and camaraderie.
  5. Avoiding Stress: Submissive cats may engage in these behaviors to reduce stress and anxiety caused by confrontations with dominant individuals.
  6. Social Learning: Young kittens learn social behaviors by observing and interacting with older, more dominant cats. Submission behaviors can be a form of social learning as kittens adapt to their surroundings.

The Role of Dominance in Cat Relationships

Understanding submission in cats also involves recognizing the concept of dominance. Dominance in cats is not always about aggression or bullying; it’s a way for cats to establish order and allocate resources efficiently.

Dominant cats often take on leadership roles and may be more assertive in controlling access to food, territory, and social interactions. It’s important to note that cat dominance hierarchies are fluid and can change over time. Age, health, and individual personality can influence a cat’s position within the hierarchy.

Cats may also engage in ritualized dominance and submission behaviors that help them avoid physical conflict.

Managing Submissive Behavior in Multi-Cat Households

In a multi-cat household, it’s common to observe various degrees of dominance and submission among the resident cats. While some level of social hierarchy is natural and healthy, cat owners must ensure that all cats feel safe and comfortable.

Here are some tips for managing submissive behavior in multi-cat households:

  1. Provide Multiple Resources: To reduce competition and tension, ensure plenty of resources are available for all cats. 
  2. Regular Play and Exercise: Playtime can also strengthen social bonds between cats.
  3. Separation When Necessary: If conflicts persist, consider separating cats temporarily and reintroducing them gradually using scent swapping and positive reinforcement techniques.
  4. Environmental Enrichment: Create an enriched environment with toys, scratching posts, and hiding spots to stimulate your cats mentally and physically.
  5. Behavioral Assessment: Consult with a veterinarian or a professional cat behaviorist if you notice ongoing aggression or stress-related behavior in your cats. 
  6. Neutering/Spaying: Sometimes, spaying or neutering cats can reduce dominance-related behaviors and aggression.

Conclusion: How do cats show submission to other cats

Understanding how cats offer submission to other cats is a crucial aspect of comprehending feline social dynamics. Submission behaviors are vital communication tools that help cats maintain peaceful coexistence within their social groups.

At the same time, it’s essential to recognize and respect these behaviors. By promoting a balanced and stress-free living space, cat owners can foster healthy social interactions among their feline companions.