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If you’ve got two or more cats, you’ve probably experienced cat confrontations at some point in time. Having multiple cats living together under the same roof doesn’t have to be an issue though, as long as you understand what problems are likely to occur in multi cat households and how to deal with them to ensure your cat clan can live in harmony (well, most of the time anyway!)
Common Problems in Multi Cat Households
- Urine spraying. This is a very obvious and easy-to-read territorial behaviour, and can indicate that there are tensions between your cats.
- Inappropriate urination and defecation. Different from spraying, if one or more of your cats are toileting somewhere that isn’t a litter tray, it’s likely to be caused by stress or anxiety. It could also be that you don’t have enough litter trays or aren’t cleaning them regularly enough.
- Aggression and fighting. Another territorial behaviour, fighting and outright aggression is probably the most obvious sign to cat owners that there’s a problem. Even if your cats don’t fight, it doesn’t mean that everything’s fine. Active aggression in the form of fighting is easy to spot, but would you notice passive aggression between your cats? This is where knowledge of cats’ body language and behaviour helps; watch how they behave around each other, do you notice direct and challenging stares, or one cat blocking another’s access to doorways, food bowls or litter trays?
- Sibling rivalry. You may think that as your cats are litter mates, you won’t have any problems between them. This isn’t always the case, however, especially if your cats are brothers. They may be best of friends as kittens, but when they mature into adult males you may have a fight for the top spot on your hands.
Keeping the Peace in Multi Cat Households
- Consider the background and personalities of your cats, along with any new cat you’re thinking of introducing to your household. Have they got a history of being sociable with other cats? Do they like the company of other cats or do they prefer a solitary life?
- Make sure you have enough facilities – beds, litter trays, food bowls, scratching posts and toys. You should have a number of beds of different types and in different places to avoid squabbles over the best sleeping spot. For litter trays, the usual rule of thumb is one tray per cat, plus one, and they should be in separate areas so your cats can have peace and quiet when they go. If you find that one of your cats is getting left out at feeding times, even though they have a bowl each, you may also need to set up two or more feeding areas.
- Maximise the space in your home so your cats can each find a quiet spot when they need one, this will mean your gang are more likely to feel secure. You don’t have to have a huge home to achieve this, cats like to be high up, so using cat trees and shelving to expand their territory upwards gives them the best of both worlds.
- Make the time to give each cat individual attention, in whatever way suits their particular personality. You may have a cat who adores being brushed, and another who hates being groomed but loves to play, so giving one dedicated grooming time and the other play time with just the two of you would work out perfectly.
Not all multi cat households experience problems between cats, and it’s usually down to the individual cats not the number you have within your household. A home might have two cats that fight like cat and, well, cat; while the ten cats next door get along just fine; it ultimately depends on the cats in question.
Do you have more that one cat in your home? How do you keep the peace in your multi cat household? Please share…