According to the Humane Society, 54% of cat parents share their homes with two or more cats. There are plenty of benefits to living with multiple cats. They are playful, entertaining, and cuddly. But having more than one cat can also bring its fair share of challenges. Feline behavior problems are much more common in households with more than one cat. As cat guardians to a multiple cat home, it is on us, the humans, to set the cats up for a successful living situation.
- 1 Multiple Cats Need Multiple Spaces
- 2 Choose Your Multiple Cats with Care
- 3 Introduce Your Multiple Cats Carefully
- 4 Enrichment is Crucial When Living with Multiple Cats
- 5 Make Time for Multiple Cats
- 6 Living with Multiple Cats
Multiple Cats Need Multiple Spaces
You can’t really define a square footage that you need per cat. You need enough space to be able to offer all your cats adequate vertical spaces, hiding spaces, window perches, and sleeping spots to keep everyone happy.
Read more about aggression in multiple cat families:
Adequate resources for everyone helps prevent aggression in multiple cat households.
Don’t expect all your cats to share a bowl, or a few bowls. Everyone needs their own. Ideally, it should not be right beside their siblings either. As cute as it is to see a row of cats all lined up for dinner, it isn’t natural cat behavior. Your kitties would prefer to eat separately. Spread your feeding stations around. You can set up food and water bowls in separate rooms or try using levels. Some cats are satisfied by just splitting the bowls up on opposite sides of your kitchen island.
Read this post for more on the challenges of feeding multiple cats.
Living with Multiple Cats Means Lots of Scratching Surfaces
Kitties communicate through scratching. Each cat needs their own “tree” to mark their territory and work their claws out on. Offer a variety of scratching options: vertical, horizontal, cardboard, fabric, jute or sisal, mats or posts. Spread them around your home. Make sure that there are scratchers in the spaces you and your furbabies spend the most time.
Follow the +1 Rule When it Comes to Litter Boxes
However many cats you have, you’ll need that many plus one. And keep in mind that a row of litter boxes lined up is just one big box in your kitties minds. Cats are territorial and don’t like sharing a box.
Read more about litter box solutions for multiple cat families:
Living with multiple cats means living with multiple litter boxes and keeping them clean.
Choose Your Multiple Cats with Care
Definitely consider choosing a pair if you’re looking at kittens. They teach each other manners, keep each other entertained, and are less likely to tear up your house. Introductions will go easier too. They will grow up together and be natural playmates.
Because cats are territorial it can be easier to add two adult cats to a new home where neither has an established territory than to bring a new cat into a resident cat’s “turf.”
Consider ages and activity levels when choosing a new cat. A young kitten isn’t a nice friend for a senior cat. Choose a cat within 3-4 years of age of your first cat to help prevent behavior problems.
Introduce Your Multiple Cats Carefully
Don’t just put your new cat down and let cats figure out how to get along. Give them some help with a properly structured introduction. Depending on the animals in question it can take weeks or even months to fully blend a multiple cat family. Don’t rush the process, patience is the key.
- Put Kitty in a separate room from your resident cat and shut the door.
- Provide your new cat with blankets and towels to rest on.
- The next day, trade out the towels and blankets and swap spaces so the cats can get used to each other’s scent.
- Use a brush or rag to create a group scent.
- Use food and toys to help the cats to get along.
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Enrichment is Crucial When Living with Multiple Cats
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Indoor cats can suffer from stress, boredom and depression and develop destructive behaviors if we don’t provide them with an enriched environment.
Physically, indoor cats are at higher risk of obesity, urinary diseases, and diabetes. Boredom can lead to behavior problems like aggression, anxiety, excessive scratching, and overgrooming.
Read more about environmental enrichment for indoor cats:
Enriched environments give Kitty positive experiences as they explore their indoor spaces.
- Interactive play is especially important in a multiple cat home. It staves off aggression, burns off energy and helps bond cats together.
- Use of puzzle feeders and other food games lets Kitty exercise her predatory nature. Food puzzles prevent boredom and obesity, and allow cats to forage for their food.
- Engage all of Kitty’s 5 senses in activities
- Clicker training
- Offer controlled access to the outdoors on harness and lead or in a catio.
Make Time for Multiple Cats
Whether you have 2-3 cats, or 12 like me, it matters that everyone gets a fair share of your attention. Not just cat care chores, but cuddles and playtime. Some cats are happy to lie in your lap while you work or watch a movie. Others aren’t satisfied without a rousing game of fetch or chase-the-red-dot. A walk around the yard on leash is a priority for some. You want to try to meet everyone where they are.
Cats thrive on their connections with their humans. Ten to fifteen minutes of active, interactive play with their guardians a couple times a day benefits their physical and mental health. Playing with Kitty strengthens our bond. The more cats we have, the more challenging the playtime can become. Making time for all the members of your multiple cat family might involve splitting the cats into play groups, playing with a cat that shies away from group activities in a separate room, or getting another human family member to join in the fun.
Living with Multiple Cats
If you are dealing with behavior problems in your multi-cat home, the sooner you intervene the better. The more in-depth and ingrained the issues become the harder it will be to break it.
Sharing your home with multiple cats requires more effort from you. It is your responsibility to make sure your multiple cats have everything they need to stay happy and healthy. They will reward you immensely with the love they return.