Through the century’s cats have been treated like royalty, in some civilisations, they have even been seen as gods. Having them fight among themselves when we lavish them with all we can, may seem a tad ungrateful, in this Pets4Homes article we will look at how to help them get along, without constant squabbling. We will look at a multi-cat household from their point of view.
Cats have an inbuilt wild streak, despite their domestication. They will see all resources as their own and any competition that may deplete these resources, they will see as a threat. So, what do we mean by this? In its basic terms, resources are food, water, and spaces to sleep and go to the toilet. If any of these resources are not provided or are in short supply, another cat makes that supply even smaller. This is what can lead to fights.
For cat owners, there is a general a thumb, and it is one each, plus one. Put simply, for every cat you own, to make sure their living is as harmonious as possible, they should have one of each item, plus one more. For example, if you have two cats, then you will need:
You get the idea, of course, if you have three cats, you would need four of everything – whoever said keeping a cat with a cheap option, was lying!
Providing these resources is only the start. If you have all of these resources one area, then you’re defeating the object. Each cat can have different characteristics and what some like, others may not.
For some, being up high and able to survey the surroundings is vitally important. Which means that wardrobes, cupboards or shelves. Make use of these areas for your resources, cats like to be away from their stressors, being up high even if it’s a cat climbing frame, may be the way to go.
Remember as well that some cats like to drink water well away from their food, whilst others make their food and drink together. Catering for the individual needs can save a lot of aggravation, vocalisation and ultimately catfights.
The second stage, to the key of your cats’ blissfully getting on together, is observing your pets for their likes and their dislikes. It may seem like pandering to them, but as responsible pet owners, we all want to do the very best for our animals – and that includes their emotional states.
Cats like routines, although they may not show it if you carefully observe them, they do many things out of habit. For example, they can learn their rival’s habits easily, such as feeding, toileting times, and even the paths that they take to journey around the home. By learning their rival’s habits means they can avoid them! This may seem strange, but to a cat it is very important.
Things that humans can do to stress a cat, once it’s learned it’s housemates/rivals habits are:
All of these things might seem petty – but for a cat they are massive. As we’ve said, cats like habits and continuity, upset that, and you can have trouble on your hands.
Calming products can work on many cats – in fact, the same pheromones can even work on big cats such as tigers and lions. The manufacturers of these products maintain that their use can assist with calm in a household. There are even products that are designed especially for multi-cat household’s, these have been designed using synthetic pheromones, similar to others that will appease kittens in the early stages of their life.
The product usually in the form of a diffuser, (much like an air freshener diffuser) claims to help reduce anxiety and because of its nature, help the cats form a closer bond. These products are not cheap, but if you are at the end of your tether, they definitely worth a try.
Having cats that tend to fight whilst outside is a much more difficult problem to solve. Having them controlled is almost impossible, so the best way to tackle this is by making the outdoor area for them as appealing as possible. Most cats enjoy being outdoors, as long as they have safe space – or one they feel safe in. This can be achieved by giving them an area with certain fencing, to help make them feel secure. This also helps keep your cat in the garden and visiting cats out.
There is a term used in many animal areas called ‘environmental enrichment’ – used many times by zoos and wildlife parks. For cats, this means making the area they call their environment outside, interesting, with friendly plants, playthings, and even obstacles. Friendly plants can include catnip, valerian and cat thyme, cats really seem to take to these plants, and their scent.
One thing that a cat owner can do to help their cats get along, especially outside is by having them neutered. Male cats tend to wander in search of a mate if they have not been neutered, whilst females often wander into other gardens calling for a mate to breed with them. As soon as your cat, male or female, wanders into another’s territory there could be lots of trouble. Having them neutered will reduce the chances of them feeling like they need to stray. Because they don’t tend to wander as much when neutered, they also are less likely to be involved in a road traffic accident.
If you have two cats that groom one another, are happy to sleep together, and even eat together, then they are likely to have accepted each other and pleased to be in each other’s company. If you have cats that you never see interact like this, the chances are they are very wary of the other cat, and will treat them as an enemy.
Only by learning your cat's characteristics and providing their basic resources, can we begin to understand what makes them tick and what makes them fight!