As pet ownership is on the rise and many of us are finding companionship and love in our animal friends, multi-pet households are increasing.
It is great to provide homes for multiple animals, but there are some considerations to make to ensure they are all happy with their living arrangements.
While dogs are inherently social animals and will generally tolerate others in the home, cats are not.
Cats in general prefer to be solitary and will often find co-habiting quite challenging.
As vets, we know that the complaints around feline behaviour increase significantly in multi-cat households.
NO….CRAZY… I hear you saying: I have two cats who live perfectly together; and its true some will, but there is often an increased level of stress involved for them.
If you have a multi-cat household there are some really simple things that you can do to help make it as happy and stress free as possible.
Litter trays: The general rule is that you need one tray per cat, plus an additional one and they need to be located in different areas.
Toileting can be a stressful time, as they are at their most vulnerable.
Therefore making sure there is no competition for litter trays will help alleviate stress and help prevent inappropriate habits developing.
Another great tip is using different litter in some trays, as they will have a preference, just like we do with toilet paper!
Cats need their own space and particularly like elevated spots where they can survey the vicinity.
Therefore, creating play and resting areas at different heights and in different rooms will allow each to find their own happy place as well as having plenty of toys and stimulation to keep their minds busy.
Like resting, cats often prefer to eat separately and off the ground.
It is important to provide water and food bowls for each cat in the home, with an additional water bowl away from the food, all ideally with some space around them; alternatively having different feeding schedules for each cat can allow them the space to eat in peace and quiet.
Essentially, don’t make them compete for resources as this is where conflict develops.
Finally, the use of synthetic pheromones can make a significant difference to their ‘chill’ levels.
It is called Feliway® and replicates the scent produced by the gland in cats’ cheeks which they use to mark their territory.
It is incredibly effective at calming, soothing and creating a harmonious environment.
It can be plugged in as a diffuser or sprayed around litter boxes or resting areas daily.
Ensuring these small things are in place, should help your cats co-habit happily.
However, if there are still behavioural issues then talking to a vet is your next step.
Often it is about tweaking little things to get the right balance for you and your cats so you can all be purrrfectly happy.