Managing a home with multiple personalities is no easy feat, especially if they are kitty personalities! Cats have a tendency to be independent in their nature, and sometimes having multiple cats can cause different personalities to clash.
If personalities do start to clash as they sometimes do, follow these tips to best manage a multi cat household.
Give your cats plenty of space
The more space you can give your cats, the better. If you have siblings, think back to when you were a kid. Sure, you may have gotten on each other’s nerves sometimes. Still, you were probably usually able to escape one another’s company by going to your own room, going outside, or just going to another room in the house.
Now think back to those family road trips. Chances are, you were stuck next to your sibling for hours on end with nowhere to escape. And probably a limited number of toys at that. That’s when the sibling squabbles would be at their worst!
In a multi cat household, we never want to let our cats feel like we felt when we were kids on road trips! Instead, let’s give them plenty of space to play, eat, use the litter box, and sleep without having to be around another cat constantly.
Cats should also always have a place to go and hide or a place where they can feel safe.
Give your cats plenty of enrichment
The next thing to consider is what toys and spaces have you provided for your cats?
Sometimes kids just want to do things by themselves and have their own things to themselves. And sometimes, cats are exactly the same way. Why would you want to share that cool blue cup with your sibling when you could have your own pink cup? Or why would you want to split a hot dog with your sibling when you could have your own?
Make sure each cat has access to their own food dish and water
Some cats like their independence and don’t want to share. Who can fault them for that? To make managing a multi cat household easier, make sure everyone has their own food dish, so they don’t have to feel like they have to fight for food.
If you free-feed your cats and let them munch throughout the day, consider having food in multiple locations throughout the house. If you don’t free feed but find that your cats are stealing each other’s food or getting possessive at dinner time, consider separating them and feeding them in different rooms where they can’t see each other or get to the other’s food.
Don’t forget about water! Cats are notoriously bad at drinking enough water throughout the day and can easily get dehydrated. It’s best to keep fresh water in several places throughout the house that are easily accessible to the cats.
While our kitties may sometimes want to cuddle up with each other, again, they might just be having a day and want some space. Have plenty of places where your kitties can cuddle up alone throughout the day, like cat trees, hideaways, cat window perches, kitty hammocks, and fluffy blankets.
And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, either. In fact, we all know how much cats seem to love cardboard boxes! These make great hideouts for cats who just need a break, and they can double as a play area.
Don’t forget about cat toys and scratching posts! Every cat should have access to its own scratching post. That’s not to say that other cats can’t use it as well and vice versa, but regardless, each cat should have one scratching post. Better the scratching post than your furniture!
Make sure you have enough litter boxes for your cats
And definitely don’t forget about litter boxes! Cats can be finicky about where and how clean their litter boxes are.
No question about it; there should be a litter box for every single cat you have. And then add one or two more.
If you have the space, try to put the litter boxes in different areas of the house. Bathrooms and laundry rooms make ideal places for litter boxes. (Related: Cats and the Optimal Litter Box Setup)
Some suggest keeping litter boxes open and not covered because if a cat feels like it could get ambushed and is in a vulnerable position, it might choose to go potty on the living room rug instead of its litter box.
Vertical space for your cats
Cats use space as a part of their social structure. Sitting high up in the cat tree isn’t just for the view! Because of this, it’s a good idea to have multiple trees for your cat. Or in other words, make sure you provide plenty of horizontal space and vertical space for your cats.
While, of course, we want to be one big happy family, sometimes cats can be a little territorial and try to claim territory as their own or guard resources. This is why it is so important to have plenty of space and resources.
How to help keep your cats relaxed
There are some things you can do to help keep all the cats in your home at ease and relaxed.
There are various sprays on the market today, like Feliway, for example, that are products that are able to simulate the natural pheromones that cats already produce. Many times, the product is like a diffuser that you plug into an outlet, and the scent wafts out from it. In fact, some people can tell when it’s time to replace the diffuser because they can feel the tensions start to rise again when it runs out!
Some types of music specifically designed for cats has been shown to reduce stress and aggression in felines.
Things to watch for in a multi cat household
Keep an eye out for a power imbalance in your cat family. Sometimes there can be a cat that rises to power and may need a gentle reminder bullies aren’t allowed!
An example of this might be a cat who steals all the favorite spots from the other kitties. A bed hog, so to speak!
Another example might be a cat who sits at the top of the stairs to try and feel more powerful and intimidate the other cats or not let them come upstairs. The easiest thing to do is to just distract the bully cat and remind him that there are other things he can do besides tormenting his siblings!
Watch for signs of aggression in cats
Even if your cats have already lived together for a long time and gotten along really well, there are some things that can cause that to change. (Related: Ways That Cats Communicate With Each Other)
For example, if one cat goes to the vet and then comes home smelling totally different. This could cause the other cats quite a bit of upset and could cause them to lash out at the cat who just went for a checkup just because he smells a little funny.
If your cats do start to fight, don’t get in the way! A bite from a cat is not only painful, but it can easily get infected and cause greater harm. Instead of using your body or your hands, find something to put in between the cats. Maybe a baby gate to get them separated.
Check in with your vet
It is important to note that if one cat is acting aggressively or just differently out of the blue, it may be wise to consider a visit to the vet. Cats don’t like to show weakness, and sometimes them not feeling well or being in pain may present itself in misdirected aggression towards you or another cat.
Sometimes injuries or illnesses that we can’t see can still cause pain to the cat. If your cats used to get along great, and all of a sudden, one cat doesn’t want to play anymore and starts hissing at the other cat, it could be because it’s in pain.
Introducing and reintroducing your cats
Sometimes though, cats can just be plain grumpy, and they may just need a break from each other. If you already have a multi cat household and things haven’t been going well, consider reintroducing your cats.
Chances are they probably didn’t mesh well when they first met, or they’ve had a fight and don’t remember how to get along anymore. In cases like this, it’s often best to keep the cats separated for anywhere from a few days to even a few weeks. This will give them time to cool off.
Before reintroducing them, an important step will be to create positive impressions of the cats to one another. For example, when you come to feed one kitty, bring the other kitty’s favorite blanket so kitty A will begin to associate food and treats with kitty B. Do the same thing for kitty B.
From there, instead of only letting the cats smell each other, the next step is to let them see each other. Instead of separating the cats by a closed room, try only separating them with a screened door or a baby gate. This way, they can still see and smell each other but don’t necessarily have to feel forced to interact. If one kitty is showing signs of distress, try distracting her by using treats or toys.
This same process applies for when you are bringing a new cat into your home! It is always a good idea to quarantine a new kitty for a little while anyways to make sure it is not sick and risk getting your other pets sick. Instead, separate the new cat for a few weeks and slowly start the introduction process with just smells, then sight, and last by letting the cats have the run of the house but with plenty of places to hide and escape to.
Having multiple cats in your house can be a wonderful experience if you are prepared to offer your kitties everything they need, from plenty of space to multiple litter boxes and water bowls. Follow these recommendations, and you’ll be well on your way to having a happy multi cat household.