The 7 Easy Ways to Stop Your Cat Bullying Your Boyfriend

If you find that your cat bullies your boyfriend, there are seven easy things you can try, including:

1. Have your boyfriend give your cat treats

2. Have your boyfriend feed your cat

3. Provide your cat with adequate exercise

4. Ensure your cat’s territory is safe and it doesn’t feel trapped

5. Reduce other stressors in your house

6. Avoid punishing your cat

7. Give your cat time to adjust

When your cat and your boyfriend don’t get along, it can truly put a damper on your relationship. After all, you love both of them — why can’t the two of them love each other?

It may appear to be simple, but like most things involving your cat, it’s not. Like your human boyfriend, your cat has a multitude of distinct personality traits and needs that must be catered to, for them to feel safe and taken care of.

However, unlike your boyfriend, your cat cannot easily communicate these needs with you (this may actually be like your boyfriend, too — but that’s another article).


1. Have Your Boyfriend Present Your Cat With Treats

I will start with the most obvious one, so forgive me if you have given it a try before.

Cats are famously big fans of positive association. Even if you have not been consciously practicing the art of positive reinforcement, you have probably introduced your cat to it in some way or another.

For example, have you ever pet your cat when he or she has sat on your lap? That’s sending positive reinforcement.

Have you ever given your cat a cheery response in a sing-song voice when they have done something cute or endearing? That, too, is positive reinforcement.

Contrary to popular opinion, cats actually have relatively long short-term memories, especially when compared to other pets such as dogs.

In fact, it is estimated that cats have a short-term memory that can last up to around 16 hours. The short of this is that, if you encourage your cat through positive reinforcement, they are likely to remember it, especially if you are doing it with some consistency.

The same thing goes for your cat’s association with your boyfriend. If your boyfriend gives your cat a treat every time they are in one another’s presence, the chances are that it won’t be long before your cat starts grouping your boyfriend in with those delicious treats that undoubtedly give your cat a warm and fuzzy feeling.

It seems simple — and it is — but trust me, it works! For my cat and my boyfriend, liver treats were particularly effective.


2. Have Your Boyfriend Feed Your Cat

This step is similar to our first suggestion, but our cats cannot simply eat treats for every meal! Before you serve your cat with his or her breakfast or dinner, give yourself pause.

Is your boyfriend around? If the answer is yes, then you shouldn’t waste an opportunity to have your cat see your boyfriend and food in the same place — yes, we’re again talking about association.

This technique is a favorite of cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, who even recommends using a long stick to feed cats who take issue with certain humans. By using this tool, your boyfriend can spare his arms from scratches by feeding your cat from a distance. This distance also helps your cat feel more comfortable, as human hands can frighten cats in close proximity.

It may feel silly at first, but by giving your cat space, you and your boyfriend are both respecting their territory and comfort levels.


3. Provide Your Cat With Adequate Exercise

Cats are complicated creatures. While it may seem that your cat’s aggression flares up in your boyfriend’s presence, it could be that your boyfriend is simply the catalyst to a much bigger problem.

Even though cats have done a great job of marketing themselves as lazy house pets that only requires a patch of sunlight and the occasional (read: frequent) feeding, they require an unexpectedly high amount of exercise.

To put it in specifics, cats should ideally be exercised for two 15 minute sessions every day.

This may seem like a lot, and in some ways it is. However, one of the possible side effects of an under-exercised cat is aggression. Giving your cat an opportunity to exercise allows them an outlet to let go of their pent-up energy. It may also mean that your boyfriend’s ankles will be spared at their next encounter.


4. Ensure your cat’s territory is safe and it doesn’t feel trapped

Cats are territorial animals. When they feel like their territory is threatened, or like something is preventing them from protecting their territory, they may act out. This is especially true if they are sensing that something or someone is threatening their peace.

Although this concept is an easy one to grasp, it can be difficult to see a cat’s territory from a human perspective.

In order to make sure that your cat’s territory isn’t under threat, ensure that their most important areas are well-positioned, i.e., that they aren’t hidden away in the corner.

This includes litter boxes, cat beds, and any other place your cat may seem to hold dear.

If your cat feels as if your boyfriend is encroaching upon his or her personal spaces, this could spell trouble for your relationship. After all, it could be possible that your cat is seeing your boyfriend as a threat.

If you move your cat’s most-frequented areas out of hallways and other popular common areas, you may notice a decrease in your cat’s defenses.


5. Reduce other stressors in your house

To reiterate my earlier point — while your cat’s stress may be linked to your boyfriend, this is not necessarily the only thing that has them feeling “off.”

In order to cross off all other possible culprits, it’s important to take an inventory of other problems that may be getting on your cat’s nerves. For example:

  • Have there been any new neighborhood cats visiting your yard lately?
  • Is there a new construction site that has gone up across the street?
  • Did you recently change your cat’s brand of food?

All of these factors can be enough to disrupt a cat’s sensitive ecosystem.

Sometimes the stressors can be obvious, such as a new pet in the household or even a new roommate. However, these factors cannot necessarily be changed by removing the stressor altogether.

In these cases, it’s possible that you may need to be patient with your cat and give him or her time to adjust. If things do not seem to improve over a month or two, it may be time to discount the possibility of there being other stressors that bother your cat.


6. Avoid punishing your cat

This is a different form of advice than our earlier points, as it is more of a warning than an actionable item. However, I believe it is worth mentioning in the same breath.

Even though we love our pets, it is normal to sometimes feel frustrated with them. As we know, cats are mysterious, and although this fact can be entertaining, it can also cause us humans what seems like endless hours of stress when we feel we cannot comprehend our feline friends at all.

In these moments of frustration, it can be tempting to lose our temper or patience with our cats. It’s really important that you don’t.

By getting angry or aggressive with your cat, you could undo months of work and progress.

Any attempts to discipline your cat would be futile, anyway. Cats don’t understand punishment and therefore do not respond to it.


7. Give Your Cat Time

Your cat and your boyfriend may not become friends overnight, and that’s okay. It’s a lengthy process.

After all, if you think back in your life, were there many friends whom you became close to after only a short time? If the answer is yes, these friendships were probably anomalies.

It is important that both your boyfriend and yourself give your cat time.

Your cat needs time to acquaint, adjust, and most of all to trust. Cats are not naturally trusting animals, but all of us who have kept a cat as a close companion know that when this trust is earned, it is oh-so worth it.

It may also be possible that the relationship between your boyfriend and your cat may seem to take one step forward and two steps back — this is also normal.

The important thing is to not give up!

Before you know, your cat may just curl up in your boyfriend’s lap. And in that moment, you will know that all of your very hard worth will have been worth it.


Writer: Rachel Cribby

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