Cats are such beautiful animals and fantastic pets, it’s no surprise that people love to have them and have more than one at a time. The difficulty with this, however, is that cats are naturally solitary animals that like their own space. This shouldn’t necessarily put you off homing them in groups, though, as there are a lot of things to consider and every cat is different. Lots of cats will happily adapt to fellow felines at an early stage in their life and enjoy living with them, some will even form a pack not dissimilar to dogs, but other cats will become highly anxious, withdrawn and even aggressive.
Things To Consider:
If it’s a question of introducing one or more cats to a cat that is currently living with you, you need to consider your cat’s personality first and foremost. He or she will generally be able to give you a rough estimation of where another cat would stand if it were introduced – some cats are particularly needy of attention and really struggle with being left alone, and in this case there is a chance that a companion might help, but a lot of cats are strong-willed and independent.
If your cat is particularly territorial or aggressive with neighbouring cats, it might not be a good idea to introduce a new cat. If it’s happy to relax with other cats in the area, or even enjoys their company, then a companion might make a great addition to the family.
Things That Can Help:
As a general rule, it’s key to have a food and water bowl for each individual cat and it’s a good idea to distribute them in different parts of the house, as this will prevent one cat seizing control over the food area, causing anxiety and stress amongst the others.
With litter trays, have one for each cat plus a spare and distribute them around quiet parts of your house. This way, each cat can have its own space and will always feel able to choose where it attends to its business.
Your time and affection is also incredibly valuable to your cats, and while one of your pets might be particularly attention-craving, the others will also have needs even if they don’t express them as much. Make sure you distribute your time between the cats as much as possible, even if this means you have to separate them one by one to do so. This way, no cat can be forced out of the main group and get neglected.
If cats are forced to compete for resources like food, water, affection and litter space, they may get anxious and stressed. This can cause them to become aggressive, evasive, or even territory mark through spraying, urinating and defecating in the home.
Making sure you keep up with regular enrichment activities can help cats express themselves and cure restlessness. Letting them exert their energy and keeping them entertained will help prevent them bullying their fellow cats or picking fights. They love plants and exploring, so consider growing catnip or cat mint in plants around your home but again, make sure there’s enough to share. You can also help your cats manage their space and territory sharing by offering them scratching posts where they can territory mark by excreting their scent through glands in their paws.
When cats are feeling anxious they will seek out isolated areas in high up places. To manage every cat’s individual needs, make sure to provide hidey-holes and resting spots at a variety of heights around the house. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these; anything from a comfortable spot on a bookshelf or a cardboard box lined with an old fleece will more than suffice.
A final thing to consider is that cat flaps are fantastic, but can offer dominant cats the ability to guard the only entrance and exit available for the others. If possible, leave a window open or let your cats pass in and out of the house by manually opening and closing doors.
If you’re wanting to home multiple cats at once, it’s always best to home them all when they are kittens or very young adults. Cats reach social maturity when they’re around one or two years, and this is when they become independent individuals that crave their own space and dislike other cats encroaching. Having a family pack identified at an early stage in the cats’ lives is crucial to them accepting their co-existence.