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More than half of all cat households have two or more cats. Owning multiple cats can be a lot of fun, especially when the cats get along. However, there may be some squabbles over food, water, access to your lap – or over nothing at all. Many times, the more cats you have the more litter box issues you have. It could help to have access to multiple cat household tips.
There are many benefits to owning more than one cat, but there are also challenges. Having multiple cats can be stressful for the cats, leading to behaviors such as spraying, inappropriate urination or stress-related diseases like idiopathic cystitis.
One of the best multiple cat household tips is to make sure there are enough resources and space for everyone. If each of your cats feels there are enough safe choices in terms of where to eat, sleep, eliminate and play, then life in your home will be much happier.
If you own more than one cat, there are ways to help make them live together more peacefully. You could benefit from these multiple cat household tips.
Multiple Cat Household Tips
- Multiple cat introductions – If you just try to put the cats together and let them work it out you are setting them up for failure. The new cat will be faced with unfamiliar cats as well as a totally unfamiliar environment. And the resident cat will think there is an intruder in his home threatening his security. Set up an isolation room to keep the new cat separated at first. The room should have a litter box, food and water, some places to hide and scratch, and some toys. Slowly let the cats see each other after about a week then make a face-to-face introduction.
- Give each cat its space – Cats are solitary creatures, so it isn’t natural for them to live with other cats. (Feral cats may hang out together to share food and water resources, but they will also have their own personal space where they can be alone.) It is important to give your cats hiding spots throughout the house where they can feel safe to nap or relax. Cats love the vertical space provided by cat trees. They also enjoy cardboard boxes and window shelves. Make sure that each cat has its own bed in different rooms because alone time is important. Also, provide plenty of scratching surfaces for your cat to enjoy. Each cat should have its own scratching surface because scratching is a way of marking territory.
- Provide an escape – Make sure that each cat has a private spot to retreat to when he feels overwhelmed, or when he needs his privacy. Cardboard boxes and carriers with the door left open make good spots to retreat.
- Dealing with litter boxes – Your cats will probably not want to use the same litter box. Instinctively, a cat who is ranked lower in the social order will not use the litter box of a cat ranked higher in the social order. It’s a sign of respect. So if you have multiple cats, it’s important that you have one litter box for each cat plus one extra litter box. Locate the litter boxes in different areas of the home and make sure each area offers some quiet and privacy. It is also extremely important that you keep the litter boxes as clean as possible. Not only will it help to control odors, but it will also help to control any litter box issues for the cats. Remember, if there are not enough litter boxes in your home, it may result in cat skirmishes or elimination outside the litter box.
- Provide plenty of toys – Each of your cats should have plenty of toys to keep them entertained. To help keep your cat’s interest, try rotating toys.
- Have multiple food and water bowls – For cats, food is equated with survival, so they instinctively guard and protect the food. If you have multiple cats, you need to have multiple food and water bowls and place them in different areas of the house.
- Give your cat plenty of exercise – When cats don’t get enough exercise they can become overweight. It can also cause pent-up energy that is directed toward other cats in the home. Interactive play sessions will provide plenty of exercise for your cats while allowing you to bond at the same time.
- Keep the peace – Not all multiple cat households are peaceful. Squabbles and skirmishes can develop, and when they do, you will need to separate the cats. Move the offending cat (or cats) to a private room to separate it from the others. Keeping the cats apart for a while can help to ease the tension.
- Try synthetic pheromones to help reduce stress – A pheromone product like Feliway simulates the facial pheromone that cats naturally produce. It can be an effective way to reduce stress and stop aggression.
- Rule out medical problems – If you suddenly notice aggression between your cats, medical issues could be the cause. When a cat is experiencing pain or illness they can become irritable, which may make your cat aggressively lash out at another cat. If you think a medical issue could be the cause of your problems, have the cat seen by your veterinarian.
If you follow these multiple cat household tips, you’ll be better able to enjoy the time you have with your cats. Having multiple cats will require more effort on your part, but the cats can also provide a lot of fun.
To learn more about having too many pets, read our article, Understanding When You or Someone Else Has Too Many Pets.
For more information about owning multiple cats, read our article How Many Cats Are Too Many?
To learn about inter-cat aggression, read our article Inter-Cat Aggression.
Adding a new cat to your household can be challenging. Read our article Should I Get Another Cat?