Living in a Multicat Household: How to Maintain Peace and Harmony

Do you share your heart and home with a clowder of kitties? Does your feline community get along well most of the time, or do you have a few feisty furry family members who are constantly picking fights with their feline roomies and upsetting the peace and harmony in your home?

Tabby cat friends

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While many cats can coexist peacefully in a multi-cat community, some cats just don’t get along. Instead of ignoring each other these cats can potentially cause general group mayhem. Although these cats have their legitimate reasons for their disturbing behavior, the good news is that there are several interventions we can help to reduce the noisy squabbling and create a more peaceful feline environment.

Scratching is a normal feline behavior so it’s crucial to provide your kitties with plenty of scratching surfaces; both horizontal and vertical. A good rule of thumb is to have one scratching post or cat tree for every cat in the home. Cats are drawn to several different textured surfaces, so offer them a variety from which to choose. Cats scratch to mark their territories, and use them to sharpen and clean their nails, and to fully stretch out their bodies.

Place litter boxes in strategic locations that are convenient for cats. There are kitties who absolutely refuse to share litter boxes. Therefore it’s best to have one litter box per cat, plus one more. Since humans are not the only ones who abhor a dirty toilet, cats also require that their “toilets” are clean. Scoop the litter boxes at least once a day, (or more if it’s necessary). Since litter boxes are also an area that cats use to mark their territory; since the aroma of scented litter is not feline-friendly, avoid using it.

According to Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, some cats are mostly tree dwellers while others prefer to hang out in caves. Tree-dwellers are instinctively drawn to heights as this keeps them safe from predators and also allows them to survey their environment; keeping current on all household action.

Provide your tree dwellers with multiple perches around the home. Consider giving the cats access to high closet shelves, and place cat trees and perches near the windows. Watching birds and other wild life is both fascinating and entertaining for cats, so what could better keep them interested and occupied?

To keep your cave dwellers happy, take a few large cardboard boxes and tape the top and bottom closed. Cut a hole in one side and stash a pillow or a fluffy towel inside the box. Then place the boxes in several locations around the house. Cave dwellers are also attracted to low bookshelves and closet bottoms. Be sure to make a special separate place in which they can hide or to escape for some quiet, peaceful time.

Keep plenty of “safe” toys around the house. Spend some time each day in interactive play with your cats. Interactive play mimics hunting behavior and gives kitties an opportunity to catch their “prey”. Interactive play also helps us to bond more strongly with our cats.

Since some cats who live in multi-cat homes become extremely protective of their food and water supply. To help prevent fighting and food “hogging”, give the cats separate food and water bowls placed in different locations around the house.

Using products such as Feliway diffusers, Bach flower remedies and Spirit Essences can sooth “scardey cats” and also calm aggressive kitties. Since feline aggression may also be caused from pain due to an underlying medical condition, such as kidney stones, bladder infections, or arthritis (to mention a few), to rule out any physical cause, a veterinary checkup is in order.

Naturally there are some cats who will never become best friends. Using patience and compassion, and by making the feline environment more “user friendly”, we can help cats to learn to live with each other peacefully in a multi-cat home.

If you presently live in, or in the past have had a multi-cat home, tell us what has worked for you to help peace and harmony reign.

Jo

Photo Credit: Gita Rau

32 thoughts on “Living in a Multicat Household: How to Maintain Peace and Harmony”

  1. Our home is multi-cat and for the most part things are quiet. We have food issues so the cats with overly passive issues eat on separate plates away from the others. When a cat arrives here we house them in a huge cat cage that we set up in the living room. It affords the new cat comfort and it lets the other cats smell and see the newbie. After about a week we open the cage door and allow the cats to visit. The results are always good.

    The only problem we have is Chipper. She was abandoned in a home when her owner suddenly died from a stroke. No one knew she was in the house. For three month she survived alone eating garbage, bugs, mice and whatever was left in the house after people broke into the house and had drug parties. When we found out she was there we rescued her immediately. She is a sweet and adoring cat but three months of isolation has made her sanity very delicate and very cranky with the other cats. They ignore her unless she starts a fight. The spat is always a short one because they stand their ground. There is a lot and spitting and snarling and then it is over.

    I love the ideas you gave for making life better for my fur kids. Almost all of them are already in place. Glad I am doing something right. 🙂 Thanks for all the great ideas.

    Reply
  2. As being own by 7 cats, 3 sets of sisters there is rarely any peace and quiet here. The oldest Missy and Tasha are about 12 years old and very laid back for the most part. In the middle are the 3 she demons Ginger,Patches and Sandy about 7 years old. Actually Sandy is pretty good. The other two constantly harass the older two and the youngest two. Dot the Snot and Freckles are the babies of the bunch who are 6 years old and the middle two in particular sneak attack them all the time. Matter of fact I just had Freckles in for major surgery for a bladder stone which could have been caused by all the stress she has. Dot is very brave, but Freckles is really sensitive. I have yet to figure out how to fix this situation other than closing the youngest off in separate room 100% of the time. Which is not right. The only other alternative is to re-home Ginger and Patches but I don’t see that happening because of their age. I will not give up Freckles after her going through so much trauma. Any suggestions??? I have large single house built like a double and they are all indoor cats.

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    • A dilemma, for sure.
      I don’t like secluding cats either. I’m trying to figure out if there is a way not to have a closed door but still make all feel safe. I wonder how feasible it would be to install a screened door to the doorway so there’s, at least, visibility. That’s pretty extreme I guess. But, actually, I think that I would try to create something like a chicken wire frame that would be able to be moved to the side when I want to get in the room.
      This may all sound crazy, but that’s my thinking.
      Just out of curiosity, why did you choose to seclude the youngest rather than to seclude the attackers?
      Also, is anyone physically hurt from the sneak attacks?

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      • I guess secluding the ones being picked on comes from when they came in the house as the smallest, and they still the smallest of them all. I have thought about doing just the opposite but honestly with the many personal problems I faced in the past year I never went through with it. Thanks so much for reminding me. Right now she is crated in a room and I do have a perfect height gate blocking the door so she can see out and they have not figured out a way to get in. This is because I have a vacuum holding the gate upright in the middle so there is no room for them to actually jump in. I am waiting for her to heal more from major surgery before I let her roam the room she is in. I know she will be terrified just thinking about being let out, and I hope once she realizes they can not get to her she will settle down. Once again thanks for reminding me to put the trouble makers in a room and block them off so she will be comfortable to move around the house freely. It is very possible the sore on her paw may have been caused by one of the others. That had to be stitched up at the same time as the bladder surgery.

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  3. Most of the time we have peace here with 7 cats, a blind Collie, a Pittie Mix and a GSD. Every now and then our matriarch, Mischief, will seek out Carrie (our newest that is fully integrated) and try to beat her up. Carrie is a cave dweller and prefers her “hidey hole” scratch post or under the chair. We keep her protected by giving Mischief some “time outs” now and then. We also give Mischief quite a bit of extra love and attention as she is 16 and has developed renal disease and some arthritis. She is being treated for both. We also use Jackson’s idea of visual blocking. When I see Missy starting to stalk Carrie, I block her vision with something (i.e. my body, a box, a blanket, whatever works) and that has helped tremendously.

    Reply
  4. For the most part, there is mostly a state of contentment here. That doesn’t mean that everyone likes everyone else. It means that there is acceptance and tolerance among them for the most part.
    My cats are cliquish and each group has there different areas. A couple have only partnered with one other. There is a definite hierarchical structure within each group. The only real spats that happen are when bosses collide.
    Feeding times are chaotic and when most of the spats occur. Every square inch of my kitchen is the common dining room. There’s sharing among group members and low tolerance for crossing over and indulging in the “wrong groups” feeders.
    Litter box sharing is a whole other issue that I’ll save for another time.

    Reply
  5. I can’t understand why Americans say spay or neuter when neuter covers both sexes, the definition of neutering in the Oxford dictionary is ‘spay or castrate a domestic animal’
    To neuter is to desex.

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    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend anyone, but speutering conjures up an image of someone vomiting lol because here in the North, to spew is to vomit.
      I’m a defender of the English language and hate lazy words, it’s sad to see some entering dictionaries 🙁
      But that’s just me of course and I’ve succumbed to lol and btw etc now 🙁

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      • Really bad grammar drives me crazy.
        The phrase “Gone Missing” just agitates me.
        It’s improper but being used by all now.

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        • Me too Dee
          and gonna and wanna irritate me lol it’s so lazy!
          Young people here are unintelligable at times, cave man speak, swallowed Ts like a drink of wah her

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          • What happened to literarcy in the UK? It has disintegrated. O levels in the 1960s look harder than A levels now. Education has been dumbed down and standards have fallen. The internet is partly to blame I think.

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            • I think you are right Michael and texting on mobile phones too, yes excusable to write ‘c u later’ when there is a word limit to a message sent but not excusable when writing in an email or on a web site where the number of words we use don’t have to be paid for.

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            • Just a thought out there, that some people actually struggle with litercy probs me included. My problem is i struggle with Reading Comprehension. I find it really hard when people use rather long words & except people to understand them. Just my thought.

              Reply
  6. Well, goodness.
    I’ll have to comment on this tomorrow since I’m out of time right now.
    Harmony, bliss, peace, quiet….. LOL!

    Reply

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