Does a multi-cat lifestyle lead to more negative human-cat interactions?

The question in the title asked whether cats living in multi-cat homes tend to have more negative interactions with their owner compared to single cats living in the home with their owner.

I can rely on the results of a study for the answer but I can’t really add a lot of detail as I don’t have access to the full study results. But I add my thoughts. Please add yours.

We get along with each and also with our human caregiver.
We get along with each and also with our human caregiver. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Friendly cats in multi-cat homes are best

They found that in multi-cat homes where the cats get along there is a lower possibility of negative interactions between the cats and the owner/caregiver compared to cats in multi-cat homes where they don’t get along and also compared to the single cat environment.

I think that’s an interesting outcome. I will restate it if I can. They are saying that in terms of the best interactions between human caregiver and cat, the background situation should be a multi-cat home in which the cats get along.

Slightly worse in terms of negative interactions with the owner is the home where cats don’t get along in a multi-cat home.

What is particularly interesting for me is that in a home where there is one cat with the owner or owners the cat is more likely to have negative interactions with the owners compared to a home where there is more than one cat and they get along well.

My thoughts on the result

This would imply to me that when several cats get along in multi-cat homes, they probably have the kind of personality that does get along with other cats. And as domestic cats regard their human owner as a surrogate feline mother (but a very large cat!), they will also get along with their owner in the same way as they get along with other cats.

In the single cat home, there will obviously be a variety of cat personalities. Some will be difficult cats while others will be very calm, laid-back and accepting. This variety of personality leads some to have bad interactions with their owners which I believe accounts for the results of the study.

RELATED: Cats in multi-cat homes ‘time share’ and use tail positions to keep the peace

The conclusion of the study in their words is:

Living in a multi-cat households per se was not a risk factor for the health and behaviour issues investigated, but the inter-cat relationship is important.

Health impacts?

What they are saying in the quote on health is that multi-cat homes did not have any impact on the health of the cats compared with single cat homes. That’s another interesting outcome I think because obviously in multi-cat homes there is a greater possibility of a contagious disease spreading among the cats.

But of course, it means that one cat has to get the disease in the first place. Perhaps in multi-cat homes the cats are more likely to be full-time indoor cats and in which case there is a much-reduced possibility of contracting a contagious disease.

Tail positions can help keep the peace in multi-cat homes as they provide signals to other cats.

Good communication always did help keep smooth and stable relationships in the human world. The same applies to cats.

Tail positions can keep the peace in multi-cat homes
Tail positions can keep the peace in multi-cat homes. Infographic by MikeB and Sarah Hartwell.

Below are some pages on multi-cat homes.

How many cat scratching posts do you need in a multi-cat home?

How many cat scratching posts do you need in a multi-cat home?

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Why do cats sleep in their litter box?

The main reason why a domestic cat might sleep in their litter box - as shown in the photograph below ...
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12 facts on keeping an indoor cat happy

I have written on this topic many times before! Repetition comes to mind but each article is different as is ...
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An idea on reducing litter tray odour in multi-cat households and saving money

One of the big problems in multi-cat homes is keeping down litter tray odours. Ideally you need one litter tray ...
A subordinate cat waits while a higher ranking cat eats

Understanding the natural social organisation within cat colonies

With more multi-cat, full-time indoor cat arrangements, it's important that people understand the natural social organisation of cats. And perhaps ...

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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