Cats can easily become our best companions, but when you have more than one cat living in the same space problems can arise. It’s easy for cats to fight when they weren’t raised together, but territorial issues don’t have to last if you know the right steps to take. If you’re thinking about getting a second (or third or fourth!) cat and want to lay the groundwork for a peaceful, happy home, read on!
Introducing a new cat
The first step in creating harmony between your new cat and the existing cats in your household is to pick the best possible new cat for your household and lifestyle. All cats are individuals, and some may merge into your household better than others.
Reducing the likelihood of problems
Even if the cat you are adopting is good with other cats, there is always the possibility of problems when introducing strangers to each other. There are several steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of problems. Before bringing your new cat home, create a separate “territory” for her. This area should be equipped with food, water, a scratching post, a litter box, access to natural sunlight, and comforta
ble resting places.
Your other cats should have their own separate territory. Make certain that both areas (the space for the new cat and the space for the other cats) contain multiple hiding places so the cats can easily retreat if necessary.
Large cardboard boxes with holes cut in two sides make great hiding places. The second hole allows the cat to escape if cornered by another cat. The boxes will come into play once you start allowing the cats to interact directly, but it can be helpful to introduce the boxes first, so that the cats become accustomed to using them.
Keep in mind that cats like to hide in high places, so remove fragile items from shelves or block access to the shelves.
Place your new cat in her space as soon as she arrives home, and spend a minimum of one hour with her (and the other cats in the household) per day. Play with them regularly and watch them closely for signs of stress or anxiety, such as hiding, aggressive behavior, decreased appetite, and/or excessive vocalization. If you see any of these signs, your cat could be suffering from stress. If the signs persist for more than several days and/or if your cat stops eating, consult with your veterinarian.
Cats, much like people, need to feel a sense of privacy to feel safe. If you allow the new cat to establish her own private, individual space it will go a long way toward her feeling safe and at home with your family.
Creating a happy home
Remember, an anxious cat is much more likely to behave aggressively than a cat who is comfortable and relaxed. If you use patience in the initial stages of the introduction process, you will probably increase your chances of a harmonious household.
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If you already have a multi-cat home but your feline friends aren’t getting along, these tips could go a long way toward re-establishing peace among your pets. The first step is always to watch out for your cats’ emotional and physical safety. But once you’ve established that the cats haven’t done each other any actual harm, you can move on to the process of helping them feel safe and at home once again.
How to Get Cats to Stop Fighting
If you have cats who are disagreeing, you’ll want to separate the cats if any of the following situations have occurred:
- The cats have injured each other, requiring medical care
- One cat becomes ill because of the stress caused by being bullied
- One cat starts living in hiding, and a medical condition has been ruled out
Reestablishing a peaceful home
If the situation is less dire (e.g., cats who hiss at or smack each other but haven’t caused injury), here are some tips to increase the degree of harmony in your household without separating the cats:
- If a cat has recently started this behavior, the first step is to check for a medical problem. A cat might act aggressively because she isn’t feeling well, so schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to find out if there’s anything wrong medically.
- If the conflict isn’t about food, use treats and mealtimes to help the cats develop a positive association with being near each other. Feed the cats next to each other and reward them with treats for getting closer to each other without acting aggressively.
- Give each cat one-on-one attention. If necessary, put one cat in another room while you interact with the other cat.
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Have you had issues bringing multiple cats into the same home? Have you discovered any expert tricks along the way that helped you establish a peaceful relationship between your furry friends?