So you want a second cat, but you are a little worried about the possibility of having cat fights in your home. More than one cat in a home may lead to jealousy and stress, but there are ways to avoid these negative emotions. Here are nine ways to maintain the peace in your multi-cat household.
Breed, age and sex could affect the way your cats will get along. Some breeds are known to be more sociable than others. Age plays an important role – the younger the cats are when introduced to each other, the better the chances are that they’ll get on very well.
2. Prepare your cats for life’s challenges
Take your new kitten for socialisation classes. Any well-socialised cat will be much more confident and better prepared to cope in most situations.
3. Never rush the introductions
Take it slow. Keep the new cat in a ‘safe’ room for at least a week before bringing her face-to-face with your current cat. Exchange smells right from the start by swopping their scratch posts so they can get used to each other’s scent. Make these experiences positive by feeding them on each other’s scratch posts, so they’ll associate each other’s scent with something good.
After about a week, put one of them in a cat carrier and let the other approach slowly to investigate. Once you are confident that they are happy together, let them out in the same room, but keep an eye on the situation.
Also provide several ‘bolt holes’ or hiding places where your cats can enjoy some ‘me time’ if they want. These can be under beds and other furniture or you could place a number of cardboard boxes in quiet places around the house. So, if one of your cats feels threatened or has had enough of the other’s company, she could disappear into a bolt hole for as long as she wants without being disturbed.
5. Keep toilet facilities clean and tidy
Provide more than one litter tray and place them in different parts of the house so each cat can use the toilet in private if she wishes. Dirty trays will cause stress, which may lead to fighting.
Never create a situation where your cats have to compete for food. Provide enough so there’s no need to fight over food and feed them in separate rooms if necessary.
7. Manage their sleeping arrangements
Each cat should have her own bedding in a place where she feels comfortable. Do not force them to sleep together, but allow them to make their own choices.
8. Enough love to go around
Give all your cats as much attention as possible. Jealousy may easily cause fighting, so make sure none of your cats feel left out.
9. Keep them occupied
Boredom may also lead to fighting and other forms of destructive behaviour, so keep your cats stimulated. Provide enough toys and scratch posts so they do not have to compete for these and make sure they each get a chance to join in during play times.
Text: Roxy Greyling
The full article appears in the April issue of AnimalTalk.