While many cats enjoy company and having another cat as their lifelong companion, domestic cats are not pack animals like dogs are, and managing the balance between cats within the same household has to be handled rather more delicately.
While it is to be expected that when you first introduce a new cat into the home of an established cat there will be some hissing, ruffled feathers and even potentially some fighting, if you find that your cats fail to get on after a reasonable introductory period, you may have a problem on your hands.
Sometimes, a pair or group of cats that have to share the same space simply will never see eye to eye, and it may be unfeasible to keep a given combination of cats together happily and safely. This can be the case when introducing mature adult cats, or bringing a newcomer of any age into the home of a cat that has always lived alone and is particularly set in their ways.
However, don’t be tempted to give up too easily! Generally, it is perfectly viable to keep more than one cat side by side in comfort, and you may even find that eventually, cats that started off as sworn enemies will ultimately become friends for life. At the very least, it is usually possible when managed correctly to get cats to the point that they will tolerate each other’s presence and not become unhappy or aggressive towards each other, instead falling into a pattern of mutually amicable ignorance!
If you are having problems with your cat’s relationships to each other, read on for some ideas on how to make things easier.
Kittens and juvenile cats are usually given a lot more leeway by a more mature cat, even if the older cat is unhappy to find another cat within their home. Bringing in a new mature cat to the household of a lone cat that is also mature can be more challenging, and will often lead to things taking much longer to work themselves out.
While even the smallest of apartments can usually provide a home for two cats, especially if they are able to go outside, there is such a thing as overcrowding, and not having enough territory and space for multiple cats to feel at home. You should ensure that you have at least one room for every cat that you have, plus at least one neutral room, in order to allow your cats their own space and relative peace from the rest of the feline household.
When resident cats don’t get on and simply cannot be around each other without getting annoyed, you may have to split your house into “territories,” and allow each cat their own area of space that is free from the presence of the other cat. This can take the format of a room each, or splitting your house into an upstairs and downstairs territory, or whatever else works for you!
Ensure that your cats have a litter tray each, and have their food, water and beds located within their own respective territories and can use them free from the attentions of the other cat.
Getting your cats settled into their own territories and feeling safe within that space is the first step, and the second involves providing a neutral zone that both cats can enter and interact with each other if they choose to do so. Do not turn this area into a boxing ring, force your cats into it, or stop them from retreating to their own safe zone if they wish to do so!
Let your cats handle things in their own time, and gradually become used to each other’s presence at their own pace and in safety.
Even if one cat appears to be the bully and the other cat seems to be getting a raw deal, do not favour one cat over the other, particularly in the aftermath of any spats or disagreements. Comforting one cat and ignoring or telling off the other is a sure-fire way to make one cat feel pushed out, jealous and unfairly treated.
Make sure that your cats share common scents, and can find something familiar in the aroma that the other cat gives off. They should both take on the scents of the household itself over time, and you can help to familiarise each cat with the other and come to view them as safe and friendly by aiding with the transference of scent between the two cats. Stroking one cat and then the other and vice versa can help to transfer their scents to and from each other, as can taking bedding or soft furnishings that smell of one cat into the realm of the other. Cats that do not smell alien to each other are more likely to accept each other!
Synthetic pheromones such as Feliway and Felifriend can also be used to help your cats to feel secure and ok with each other, as well as going some way towards calming the two parties down.
A large part of getting cats to accept each other, even if they have never really seen eye to eye, is to let them get on with their introductions and even scrapping or fighting (unless one cat is in danger of getting hurt) and so, get it out of their systems. It is important to cats to establish their relationships to each other and work out who is who, who is in charge and what position they hold in the pecking order of the other cats in the household.
Allow your cats the opportunity to work this out without human intervention as much as possible!
Hopefully, your cats will become friends given time, and will be happy to share their territories and may even ultimately seek each other out and enjoy each other’s company.
However, the personalities of cats are as individual as those of people, and you cannot force two felines to be friends! Make your goal simply keeping peace within the household, and promoting your cats being able to tolerate each other’s presence without incident. If your cats do end up being friends then this is great, but do not be disappointed if they largely ignore each other!