(And especially, since I went from 1 to 2 to 3, and now am also keeping a friend’s 2 cats with me as well, it’s become a 5 home house, with only 3 bedrooms! Crazy, I know! Sorry about not posting sooner. I’m trying to clean out some junk. Enjoy the article! Darling Cat)
“45 Tips for a Harmonious Multicat Home
Sharing a home with multiple cats can be beneficial for you and your furry family members. It can also lead to some not-so-favorable behavior. The following tips will help you and your cats live together peacefully.
1. For homes with one current feline resident, choosing a new cat of the opposite sex can reduce fighting.
2. Introduce the new cat slowly. Cats are very territorial and can be hesitant to welcome a newcomer.
3. Temporarily keep the newcomer in a separate room with her dishes and litterbox.
4. If you have an older cat, consider adopting two kittens instead of one so they will entertain each other.
5. “Feed [cats] on opposite sides of the door,” suggests Dusty Rainbolt, author of Cat Wrangling Made Easy: Maintaining Peace and Sanity in Your Multicat Home (2007, The Lyons Press). Doing so teaches the cats to associate good things with each others’ scents.
6. Make initial face-to-face introductions through a cracked door or on opposite sides of a baby gate.
7. Some hissing or growling is normal, but one cat should not be allowed to bully another cat.
8. When they are interacting pleasantly with a boundary between them, remove the boundary. Watch carefully for signs of aggression.
9. Never leave a newcomer alone with resident cats until you are certain they will not fight.
10. Make sure to give resident cats plenty of attention so they don’t feel replaced.
11. Ensure that all household members enforce rules consistently.
12. Set boundaries early.
13. Train cats using positive reinforcement.
14. Make accommodations for older cats who don’t want to be bothered by a newcomer.
15. Never force a cat to be social if she prefers spending her time alone.
16. Patience is key. Cats can take as long as 12 months to bond.
17. Because cats are territorial by nature, create as much space for them as possible. Rainbolt suggests providing lots of high spots and hiding places to maximize territory.
18. “Vertical territory is very important,” says certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger. Optimize this space by installing cat trees and kitty condos throughout the home.
19. Window perches create space and allow your cats to bask in the sun.
20. Outdoor enclosures expand territory and allow indoor cats to experience the outside world.
21. Establish a routine, and feed all cats at the same time.
22. Never give treats to one cat and not another.
23. Provide separate food and water dishes for each cat.
24. Provide numerous feeding locations to ensure that a more dominant cat will not guard the food.
25. In homes with pets other than cats, all animals should have separate dishes and feeding locations.
26. Immediately address and correct any food possessive behavior.
27. Spread litterboxes throughout the house. Provide one box per cat, plus one extra.
28. Keep litterboxes clean to prevent messes outside the box.
29. Clean up accidents immediately with an enzyme-based cleaner to make odors undetectable to cats and other pets. This prevents other pets from returning to the scene of the crime.
30. Rachel Knapp, assistant manager of the McKean County SPCA in Pennsylvania, suggests regular grooming as a method of relieving stress.
31. Many cat behavior experts and cat owners recommend pheromone diffusers or sprays. These products contain odorless endorphins that give cats a feeling of tranquility.
32. Most cats don’t like commotion. Give them a quiet area to escape to help reduce stress.
33. Ensure that cats burn excess energy through exercise and mental stimulation.
34. Provide numerous toys for each cat.
35. When cats are playing with each other, do not allow them to fight or behave aggressively.
36. If fighting occurs, never separate the cats by hand. Distract them by making a loud noise, then place the cats in separate locations.
37. To prevent cats from fighting with dogs, never allow a dog to intimidate a cat.
38. Following a disturbance, reintroduce cats slowly.
39. Never allow aggressive behavior toward people or other pets.
40. Learn to understand feline body language.
41. Have all pets spayed or neutered to help reduce behavioral problems.
42. Take your pets to the veterinarian for regular exams.
43. If your cat or any pet has any sudden changes in temperament, see your veterinarian immediately to rule out underlying health problems.
44. Consult a behavioral expert if your cat behaves aggressively for no apparent reason.
45. Always make sure each pet’s needs are met, and accept each as an individual family member. Doing so is the most important step in developing and maintaining a harmonious household.”
(Originally written by Samantha Mittlelmeier.)