When You Own More Than One Cat

When You Own More Than One Cat

How many cats is ideal for a home? For your house, you alone know the answer, but in most homes, the answer is more than one.

According to the American Humane Association*, most cat lovers choose to live with more than one cat. The average cat-loving family lives with 2.1 cats. What’s right for you? Are you considering introducing another cat to your resident cat? Is it possible for them to be the new BFF’s on the block?

The first thing to consider is that cats are territorial creatures. In the wild, submissive cats simply avoid dominant cats, but if two such cats live in your home and are confined to indoors, the submissive one doesn’t have too far to run. There’s no magic formula for combining more than one cat and making a happy home since cat personalities vary greatly, but here are a few pointers to ease the way:

1. Neutral Territory. The earlier you spay and neuter your pet, the better. You’re not guaranteed that your neutered tom cat will never spray urine on a freshly painted wall, but the odds are much better. A neutered cat isn’t likely to fight for a potential mate’s affections either.

2. Less Stress for Tess… or Chester… or Charlamaine. Since cats are territorial, separate feeding areas allow timid cats to eat too. While the more dominant cat is occupied, the submissive cat may surreptitiously slip away to the second food bowl, located in a nice quiet place. Separate litter boxes are recommended for similar reasoning. Always be sure your cat has an escape route from the litter box and does not feel trapped. Some cats don’t prefer a litter box with a cover for just that reason.

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3. Gradual introductions. Keep the cats in separate areas in the beginning to get them used to the idea of a new roommate. Their keen senses of smell will alert them that some other kitty is on the other side of that door. Swap bedding around so that they can get used to the scent of the other. When you introduce them formally (Mr. Bojangles, may I please present you to his majesty, Maximillian.) short initial times of togetherness are good. 30 minutes is fine for a first time together.

4. Play every day. “Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in that respect.” James Mason. Truer words were never spoken, but you may want to coach a little, for your own sanity and for the preservation of things you like. Cat trees and perches by windows are great to give your cat an opportunity to climb and enjoy the view from her new vantage point. Separate happy spots make for separate happy cats. Cat-nip infused tiny stuffed mice are popular for hiding, chasing and chewing on.

5. Acceptance is enough. It will take time – you can expect a bit of hissing and arched backs from time to time. Transition may be from 2 weeks to 2 months, and some personalities may simply come to a begrudging acceptance of others.

* American Human Society