Having recently lost our alpha female cat, I thought it would be worth jotting down my thoughts on how the death of an alpha female changes behaviour in a cat group
Death of Alpha Female Changes Behaviour In A Cat Group
It is not the first time we have lost an alpha female cat. The first cat we ever had here at our house in Italy was called Angela. She was the founder of our little cat family, over 20 years ago.I wrote a short story that tells all about them and how they became a part of our life.
Scruff was born to Alphabetti Spaghetti, Alfie for short. Alfie was Angela’s granddaughter and was alpha female for quite a while. She was Emmy’s mother, Emmy being our little epileptic cat. I won’t delve further into the cat ancestry as it gets too complicated! But Scruff became alpha female when Alfie died.
Scruff was a tabby and white cat, only little, but quite fierce. She retained a lot of the wildness of her feral ancestry. When she was five she was diagnosed with FIV. Soon after, when she was spayed, the vet discovered that she had polyps in her eyes that had to removed. A few years later, Scruff developed Stomatitis and lost all her teeth but one canines and a tooth underneath it in the bottom jaw. We called her ‘the toothless wonder’ as she was unstoppable. Even with no teeth!
Alpha Female And Then Some
Scruff ruled our troop of cats with a rod of iron. Her rival, Scrappy (also born to Alfie) was banished to the edges of the group, as were all her female kittens. Her boys were just about tolerated but Scruff would soon let them know if they had done something she didn’t like.
Scruff would chase off visiting tom cats. The cats would come to check out the group, looking for females in season. As ours are all spayed and neutered they wouldn’t get very far, but it didn’t stop them getting aggressive. Scruff dealt with them all. I wonder if they ever knew she only had two teeth?
Scruff and her three offspring, Monk and Niblett (both four years old) and Tippy (six years old) were the dominant family and were always on the porch or first at the feeding bowls.
Scruff Got Sick
At the age of ten years, Scruff started to develop a lump between her eyes and I took her to the vet. A head scan showed she had a tumour behind her nose that had eaten away a large part of her bone structure. And yet she never showed any pain!
The only option was palliative care, a combination of anti-inflammatory and pain killers kept her going for another few months as the tumour continued to take over. But all the time, right up to the end, she ruled her domain with a rod of iron! Eventually, we had to have her put to sleep.
Death Of An Alpha Female Changes Behaviour In Cat Group
After her death, we noticed a change. Initially quite subtle and then unmissable. Scrappy took over as alpha female and suddenly her offspring were everywhere. Moonboots, banished to the woodland by Scruff, is at the house most of the day. Scrappy’s other family members also are much more visible than they were.
In contrast, her family is now taking a back seat. Scrappy is not as fierce as Scruff so they are not banished, but they give way to Scrappy, whereas before they would bully her.
Read More About My Cats
Check out my cat short stories, cat biographies and cat medical blogs – boy there are some interesting things there. Not least, one of my post popular blogs about my cat that grew a horn on his head!
Note all of the images in my blog today are available to purchase as prints. You can find out where to see my collection via my website.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art, and where you can buy prints, at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!