" Cats are like chocolates, it's hard to have just one!"
Cats are creatures of habit, they like routine and can be easily stressed with changes in their routines or environment. Cats can also be very territorial over their space, toys, food, litter and their humans!
Here are some tips on living with multiple cats:
To help reduce some of the stress associated with living with multiple cats the use of pheromones like Feliway and Feliway friends diffusers are recommended. These diffusers can help reduce the stressors in the environment and help your cats feel calm and safe in their home. Pheromone diffusers can help with Intercat aggression, issues with territory, urine marking etc. These pheromones are designed to mimic the scents and pheromones released from the mother cat as well as the feline facial pheromone that cats release when they are happy and rub their cheeks up against walls, humans, other pets and objects when they are happy, thus making them feel safe and secure in their environment.
Designated space for each cat
Even in households where multiple cats have been living together long term and are familiar with each other, it is always great for each cat to have an individual safe space for them to be able to go to if they want to have some time alone and not be bothered by other cats. Cats don’t often like to share their things and not having their own space to enjoy can cause some Intercat conflict and redirected aggression in the environment. Make sure that you have multiple cat perches and scratching posts with different levels, cat beds and areas for them to hide for a big cat nap and some quiet relaxation.
Because cats like routine try meal feeding vs. free feeding this can help with monitoring if your cat is eating and how much, prevent over eating, as well if you need to give your pet medications with their meal. With multiple cats you want to make sure that you have more than one food bowl. Cats can be very picky over their food bowls, and if one cat is easily intimidated by the other, they may not feel comfortable eating in the same area.
Sometimes one cat may try to steal the others food and this may cause some Intercat conflicts in the household. Try having separate feeding stations for your cats so that they can enjoy their meal in comfort without having to protect their territory or quickly gobble their food. Microchip feeders are also a good idea for cats that are on special diets or if another cat is eating their food you can program it to only open for one cat. Sometimes cats can be picky about the shape, size, depth and make of their feeding dish. Try using ceramic or stainless steel to prevent feline acne caused by bacteria on plastic surfaces. Some cats may prefer their dishes to be elevated while others may prefer food puzzles or feeders that they have to hunt/forage for their meal. No bowl feeding systems and food puzzles are also great for slowing down those kitties that scarf down their food too quickly as well as provides them with some mental/physical stimulation.
The scoop about kitty litter
As a rule of thumb cat owners should have one litterbox per cat plus one. So, if you have two cats, you should have three litterboxes. Location is important to cats as well, make sure that there is at least one litterbox on each level of the home so that Fluffy doesn't have to travel multiple levels to find a litterbox. Also, litterboxes should be placed in a quiet area of the home, be sure that it is not located in a high traffic area as cats enjoy their privacy when using the litter. Loud noises and commotion may make your cat feel annoyed, stressed or scared when using the litter. Cats are also very clean creatures; they do not usually like to eliminate in the same area where they eat. Make sure that their litterboxes are in a different area than their feeding stations. Because cats are very particular and clean animals, make sure to clean litterboxes often, sometimes cats will not use litter if it hasn't been scooped the previous day. If you can scoop litterboxes at least once daily that would be recommended and change the complete litter box weekly and wash any excess dust out. Some cats will not use the same litter as another cat in the household, so it is best to have multiple boxes for them to choose. Cats will often refuse to use their litter if it hasn't been scooped recently. How many times have you scooped your cats litters and they jump right in to the fresh box right after you've just scooped it? Some cats are sensitive about scented litters and some types that are very dusty. Find a litter that works best for your kitty. Another big thing for cats is covered versus uncovered. We know that litterboxes are not pretty and we don't want guests staring at or smelling the presents that Fluffy just left in the litter, however most cats prefer uncovered litter boxes. Sometimes we may see Fluffy squatting on a rug or somewhere she is not supposed to because she doesn't like to be closed inside her litter box. Make sure that the box is big enough Fluffy to get in comfortably and turn around with ease. Cats like to see what is going on around them so that if there is a threat, predator or another cat getting ready to pounce they can see it coming and escape quickly.
Boredom in cats may result in Intercat conflicts, they may become destructive, develop behavioral issues, and possible redirected aggression if not stimulated in their environment. This is why it is suggested to provide some special bonding time daily to help your feline friends stay happy, feel safe and also strengthening the bond between you and your cats. Does your cat have a favorite catnip toy? perhaps enjoy chasing the laser pointer? Some cats are quite playful, others love to cuddle or grooming and some just like the interaction of just their favorite person paying attention talking to them. Figure out what type of play or attention your kitty enjoys. Then try to engage in some separate play time doing something that you know that they enjoy and provides them with enrichment. There are many different types of interactive toys, laser pointers, scratching posts, tunnels, food puzzles, etc. that can keep your cat active, stimulated and a happy kitty.