Many of us treat our cats like royalty with the finest food bowls, the tastiest treats and a quality of bed that any human would be happy to inhabit. So it can be frustrating when our kitties are seemingly ungrateful, choosing to squabble amongst themselves rather than being entertained by the luxury toys we lavish upon them. However in multi-cat households, we have to see it from their perspective.
We choose who they share their pad with when we invite multiple ‘purrsonalities’ into our home, and so we must consider that there might be a clash of characters which can cause a great deal of stress to all parties. So how do you know if your felines are on the brink of physical fights and/or generally anxious?
The research suggests, that cats who groom one another and/or sleep and eat together, are likely to be a happy pair living in domestic bliss. On the other hand, if you never see them engaging in this way, the chances are that your cats view each other as foes not friends. These curious creatures are like part of the family and often, we simply aren’t prepared to give up trying, so read on for some handy hints for harmonious living.
First, let's get back to basics.
There are many things inherently wild about even the most domesticated of cats, one of these things is the inclination to be involved in resource competition. By this we mean competition for life’s basics such as food, water, elimination and sleeping space. If these things aren’t in abundance then it is likely that your cats will see each other as a threat to their vital resources, with the potential for fights to break out. You’ll be pleased to know that there some very simple things you can do to ease this worry.
Start by applying the rule ‘one each plus one’. If you have two cats, 3 bowls of water, 3 litter trays, beds etc are required. If you have 3 cats, 4 of all of these things are necessary, and so on and so forth. A further tip is to place all of these necessities in different environments, in order to cater for your cats’ preferences. For example some cats have a head for heights in times of stress, so make use of the tops of wardrobes and cat climbing frames to allow them to get away from stressors. Likewise, some cats prefer to drink water well away from their food station, whereas others like food and water side by side.
Observe your kitties to work out their likes and dislikes, it might be worth your while pandering to them!
Cats are amazing creatures and capable of learning one another’s routines.
This includes learning their housemate’s feeding habits, toileting times and even the routes they use to move about the house. This allows cats to avoid each other, a small but important choice to them. So don't play havoc with the atmosphere by blocking routes of movement, by insisting that the cats spend time together, or by moving their essential resources around unnecessarily. These might seem like small problems to you, but the continuity of your cat’s surroundings might be the only thing that is maintaining equilibrium within your home.
What about calmers?
There are products on the market whose manufacturer’s claim to contribute to calm in the household. One such product is Feliway. Feliway now have a product specifically designed for multi cat households, called Feliway Friends. This product was created on the premise that kittens, who have to cope with daily, new and potentially daunting experiences, receive a naturally occurring appeasing pheromone within their mother’s milk. This pheromone comforts and relaxes them and in turn increases the strength of bond between queen and kitten. Feliway Friends utilises a synthetic version of this very pheromone, which it delivers to the environment via a diffuser. Many cat owners find this a helpful product that reduces anxiety and so helps a bond form between cohabiting cats.
Perhaps you have a lone cat who enjoys time outdoors. Cats scrapping outside of the home is, by nature, very much more challenging to prevent. With all those uncontrollable variables your best bet it to try to create an outdoor haven that your cat can call their own. There are things you can do to keep visiting cats out and your cat in, including using certain fencing.
Meanwhile, boost their environment with interesting obstacles, playthings and cat-friendly planting to keep their interest so they don’t feel a need to stray. Catnip, Cat Thyme and Valerian are just some examples.
The kindest cut...
There is one fundamental and very important thing a cat owner can do to dramatically reduce the chances of their cat being harmed outdoors, and that is neutering. Entire ‘Tomcats’ are highly likely to wander in the hope of finding a mate, and this alone will see them crossing into the territory of other cats, usually being seen as a threat. Likewise, un-spayed queens will wander to find a mate or attract one to them by ‘calling’. Neutered cats are also less likely to be run over by traffic.