Although cats have a reputation for being solitary creatures, they are actually quite social.
In the wild, cats often form complex social groups in which they play, groom one another, and fraternize. Many cats enjoy living together and often form close bonds, but you will have to do some planning to be able to meet everyone's needs while keeping the peace. The more cats you have, the more work you will have to perform, and you will have to purchase extra necessities such as litter boxes, toys, scratching posts, and food and water bowls-including their contents. Multicat households have more potential for messes and conflicts. However, if you are prepared to take on the extra feline care duties, sharing your home with more than one cat can be an extremely rewarding experience. Our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center & Pet Resort team reveals four secrets to creating a happy multi feline household.
Introduce New Cats Gradually
When you bring home a new cat, you can help them adjust to their new surroundings, and gradually introduce them to the other cats in your home. Follow these tips to smooth everyone's transition to the new living arrangement:
- Give them space - Ensure each cat has their own space, giving the new cat a separate room or area that includes all their essentials-food, water, litter box, bed, and toys-which will help your new family member feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed in their new environment.
- Take it slow - Gradually introduce your cats by first letting them see and smell each other from a distance. Once the cats seem comfortable with seeing each other, allow them to interact while you supervise. The cats should approach, sniff, and touch each other at their own pace.
- Have patience - Give your cats time to adjust. Your cats may take weeks or months to become accustomed to each other. Some cats may never become best friends, but the goal is for them-at the very least-to tolerate each other.
Provide Each Cat Plenty of Resources
Like children, cats do not always enjoy sharing because they are naturally territorial, and in a multicat household, their territories often overlap, which may lead them to defend their territory, causing conflict, long-term stress, and behavioral issues. To help prevent your cats from having territory disputes, ensure you provide each cat with an appropriate amount of the following resources:
- Food and water bowls - Cats are not amenable to sharing food and water bowls. Give each cat their own bowls, and place the bowls a good distance away from each other. We recommend you set up their food and water bowls in separate rooms or on different levels (e.g., one cat eats on the floor, and the other eats on a raised surface).
- Scratching posts - Scratching is a necessary feline behavior they use for nail maintenance, marking territory, stretching, and stress relief. In multicat households, each cat needs their own scratching space to feel safe and secure. To encourage appropriate scratching, place scratching posts strategically throughout the house.
- Litter boxes - The general rule for a multicat household's appropriate number of litter boxes is one box per cat, plus one more. Ideally, you should place a litter box on each of your home's levels.
Keep Your Cats Mentally Stimulated and Physically Active
All cats crave enrichment, especially in multicat households, because bored cats can develop health and behavior issues. You can keep your feline friends entertained, healthy, and living in harmony by providing the following environmental enrichment gear:
- Engaging cat toys - Cats enjoy toys that invite them to exercise their instinctual hunting behavior, and these items can keep them engaged and physically fit. To encourage them to stalk, pounce on, and kill their prey, give your cats toys that squeak, chirp, vibrate, swing, or swish.
- Plenty of perches - Offer your cats plenty of elevated perches. Cats feel secure in high areas where they can safely view their surroundings. The ideal perch provides your cat with a spot to lie, sit, sleep, or observe the goings on below. You can attach some perches to window sills, so your cats have a view of the outside world.
- Food puzzles - Puzzle feeders invite your cats to forage for their food and exercise their predatory nature while providing mental stimulation and physical activity.
Spend Quality Time With Your Cats
Ensure you give each household cat a fair share of your attention each day. Keep in mind that each cat has a different idea of quality time. Some cats enjoy lying on your lap, while others may prefer a rousing game of chase the string. Most importantly, make time every day to connect with each of your cats individually.
Try our tips for keeping the peace in your multicat household. But, if you are still struggling to prevent your cats from resource guarding or becoming involved in conflicts, schedule an appointment with our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center & Pet Resort team, so we can assess your cats' health and behavior, and recommend cohabitation strategies based on each of your cats' needs.