I appreciate that humans like to live together and share things like food, beds, toys and even toilets, but cats don’t!
We are naturally solitary and independent creatures, but we also know that humans love cats and quite often like to have the companionship of more than one cat in their home.
Let me tell you what it’s like living in a multi-cat household, and how my pet parents have managed to maintain harmony.
The Golden Rule for Multi-Cat Households
It’s important to remember that each cat will want to access resources when they choose, without having to interact with another cat.
So, the golden rule is that you should make sure that each cat has their own:
- Food and water stations
- Separate resting areas
- Scratching posts
- Litter boxes
- Hiding places (or elevated places where we feel more secure)
- Dedicated time to play with our pet parents on our own
I also suggest that you have one extra resource of each. In the event of any altercation between your cats, there will always be somewhere else for them to go.
Make sure each item is placed in different locations around the house to allow individual access, and in areas away from noise and traffic – i.e. other cats or people wandering about and disturbing us.
Enlist the help of FELIWAY Optimum to support cats and keep harmony in the home. If your cats spend most of their time apart, you may find it useful to use FELIWAY Optimum near each of their safe spaces.
I share my home with another cat. Her name is Wegie (she’s a Norwegian Forest Cat) and she likes to climb a lot, so our pet parents have put her bed up high on top of the cupboard. That’s fine by me as I like my bed to be in a warm corner of the room. I’m also very happy to sleep on my pet parent for my cat naps, but Wegie prefers to cuddle up beside them and not on their lap.
Introducing a New Cat
My pet parents were very considerate when they brought Wegie home. They understood that cats are individual and independent, so they made sure we had a period of adjustment and that we got to know each other slowly.
They were very clever and swapped our scent around; before Wegie arrived my pet parents took one of my blankets to her so that she got used to my scent – and also brought one of hers home to me.
Sense of smell is important to cats, as it’s a way of detecting danger - and at first I was very uncertain of the new Wegie-smelling blanket in my favourite room! But after a few days, I got accustomed to the scent - and my humans rewarded me for staying calm around it. That process made it much easier to help me adapt to Wegie being brought home.
Our pet parents also made sure we had our own ‘safe space’; mine was snuggling up on the windowsill in the living room while Wegie preferred to go upstairs into a different safe room.
After a while, our humans allowed us to be in the same room together and meet visually - under supervision and with a barrier between us. We could each escape to a safe place if we wanted to, and were not forced to go near each other. Our humans understand cat body language, and were watching very closely, to distract us with a fishing rod toy if needed!
After many gradual introductions over time, we’re now getting along quite well! We respect each other’s safe spaces, but we also have fun chasing each other in the garden, and Wegie always escapes up a high tree if she’s had enough.
Some of my kitty friends have lived together in harmony from the very beginning, but that’s because they were from the same litter and their pet parents brought two of them home together. Cats from the same litter are more likely to get along very well, but will still need to have their own space and resources.
It’s important that pet parents still continue to give their cats one-on-one attention. This could mean playing different games with different cats at different times – Wegie likes chasing ping-pong balls across the room, and I prefer to play hide and seek in a cardboard box. My pet parents have made an amazing castle with lots of cardboard boxes and they hide treats inside it – it’s great fun!
Our one-on-one time can also include help with grooming or just having some bonding time while sitting on the sofa in front of the fire.
It might not all be plain sailing
I am pleased to say that Wegie and I get along ‘purrfectly’, but it’s important that pet parents are able to recognise the signs of an unhappy kitty.
There’s the obvious sign of a cat fight – not very nice and they usually call for a distraction, like clapping your hands, to intervene. The cats are then likely to go off in different directions.
But there are more subtle signs of cat aggression towards each other, such as staring, or blocking.
We may also start urine spraying around the house, scratching furniture, hiding more frequently or even over-grooming. Just because cats aren’t actively fighting, doesn’t mean we are getting along, so it's important that you’re able to recognise all signs and take appropriate action.
It is also important to make sure your cat’s microchip data is up to date too – just in case one cat is unhappy and escapes. My kitty friend, Felix, didn’t take to his new home and failed to bond with the resident cat, despite his pet parents trying everything. It was decided that Felix might be happier living elsewhere, so he was rehomed. His new humans made sure to change the address details on his microchip though, just in case he ever got lost!
If your cats are still not getting on despite your efforts, it’s advisable to get them checked out by a vet to make sure there are no underlying medical issues contributing to their demeanour.
…But it might go purrfectly!
Even though Wegie and I like different things, we do get on together. We have great fun chasing each other in the garden and always say hello by touching noses. We also help groom each other and you might even find us curled up in a bed together!