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How to Show Dominance to a Cat (10 Tips for Becoming More Assertive)

How many times have you walked into someone’s home only to quickly realize the cat is the one running the show? If you’re a cat owner struggling with a dominant cat or just trying to ensure that doesn’t happen to you, you’re not alone.

But the good news is that there are a few simple tips and tricks you can follow to show your cat that you’re the boss and take control of your home. You don’t need to start acting crazy or even making a ton of lifestyle changes, either. Keep reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

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The 10 Great Tips to Show Dominance to a Cat

1. Use Positive Reinforcement

When you’re trying to assert dominance over your cat, the last thing you want to do is make it so they’re scared of you. You want to be the respected leader of the pack, not the warden holding the keys to the prison.

Using positive reinforcement is a great way to show them that you’re the one in charge while building a great bond with them. Reward them when they do good things, and simply ignore or correct the negative behavior. With enough time, the positive reinforcement will work and you’ll have a cat that respects you and your role as the pack leader.

calico cat having treats
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock
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2. Teach Them Tricks

The more time you can spend with your cat, the more opportunities you have to assert yourself as the leader. One great way to spend a little extra time with your cat while putting yourself in a dominant role is to try and teach them some tricks.

Persistence is key when teaching a cat anything, and you need to bring rewards for them to even consider doing what you want. Remember to stay positive during all the training sessions, and if you need a break, there’s nothing wrong with walking away—just don’t give your cat the treat if they’re not listening!

bengal cat gives a high-five paw to the owner
Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock
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3. Use a Leash

We know, we know—leashes are for dogs. But if you’re trying to show your cat that you’re in charge, a leash might be a great way to do it. Don’t use the leash as a punishment. Instead, use it as a fun teaching tool.

Pay attention to them when they’re on the leash and ensure you’re rewarding them for good behavior. Please don’t use the leash as a punishment, though. And we don’t recommend walking away while your cat is on the leash.

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4. Set Boundaries

You can’t let your cat walk all over you and your home. If there are certain things you don’t want your cat to do in your home, don’t let them do it. This doesn’t mean you get to be mean to them if they’re not listening, but it does mean you need to consistently take the time to correct behavior you don’t like. This is your home, so set the boundaries you want and need.

cat sits on a sofa and sniffs owner finger
Image Credit: Soloveva Kseniia, Shutterstock
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5. Use Catnip

If there’s one thing almost every cat loves, it’s catnip. Use it to your advantage. When they’re doing something you like, give them some catnip. If they’re not behaving the way they should, take it away.

Once you get your cat hooked on catnip, you have all the power since you control the catnip supply. Sure, they’re only listening to you because they want their fix, but if they’re listening does it really matter?

cat eating catnip
Image Credit : Piqsels
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6. Always Initiate Playtime

When your cat is coming up to you meowing, nudging, and nibbling on you to get you to play with them, ignore it. We know that this is easier said than done, but you need to be the one that initiates playtime with them.

This sets your role as the alpha and lets your cat know that you’re the one that gets to decide when you’re playing with them, not the other way around. Once your cat is comfortable in their role this doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally play with them when they ask, but they need to learn to take no for an answer first!

cat playing with owner
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock
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7. Control Where Your Cat Goes

Just because it’s in your home doesn’t mean your cat should have complete access to it. Whether it’s a countertop, a TV stand, or even a specific room in your house, it’s perfectly acceptable to have “no-go” zones for your cat.

The key is to enforce these no-go zones consistently so your cat doesn’t try to trample over the rules. Once they get the hang of it and recognize you as the leader, you shouldn’t have problems keeping your cat away from these areas.

charcoal bengal cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Smile19, Shutterstock
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8. Ignore Them

Your cat wants your attention, so if they’re doing something they shouldn’t, don’t give them your attention in the first place! This can be a tough tip to follow since sometimes your cat will purposely act out to try and get you to pay attention to them.

Fight the temptation and keep going on with your day. When your cat learns that acting out doesn’t get them the attention they want, they’ll have to look for new ways to get it. For this method to work, you need to pay attention to your cat when they’re doing something you want them to do.

cat ruubing head on his owner's leg
Image Credit: Gordana Sermek, Shutterstock
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9. Don’t Play Favorites

If you have multiple cats or pets in your home, it’s important that you treat them all equally and don’t play favorites. If you do, they can pick up on that behavior and that’ll start to set a hierarchy amongst themselves.

Once they develop their own hierarchy, it’s only natural for them to start wondering if they can get to the very top, and that means challenging you.

feeding cat
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shuterstock
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10. Don’t Give In!

If you’re trying to assert your dominance as the leader of the house, you can’t let the cat win! At some point, it’s going to become a battle of wills, and you need to hold strong to ensure you win. Remember that you hold all the cards, so there’s no reason you should let your cat walk all over you in your home. Set your boundaries, stay consistent, and stay at it!

kitten training
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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When you’re trying to assert dominance over your cat, it can be a frustrating experience. But if you follow all the tips and tricks we highlighted here, it won’t be long before your cat recognizes you as the leader of the home.

Don’t expect them to ever be as submissive as a dog, but they shouldn’t be challenging you for your top spot either!

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Featured Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock