How To Help Your Cats Get Along

cat friends

 

You can probably already tell that your cats have distinct personalities. Kind of like people. They’re people-kitties. It makes sense then, that there will be other cat personalities that they just don’t mesh with. When I first introduced Sita and Pippin, I was terrified I’d botch their first impressions somehow and they’d hate each other for nine lifetimes.

 

Psh. We ain't friends.

Psh. We ain’t friends.

I’m happy to report that despite their wildly dissimilar personalities (Sita is a dignified, disgruntled, demanding old lady and Pippin is a blithely rambunctious airhead), they are friends. I think. I’m pretty sure they’re friends.

But it didn’t happen through sheer luck, or through the blessing of some benevolent kitty god in a cat tree high up in the sky.

I’ve watched enough episodes of “My Cat From Hell” to know that there are basic, cut-and-dry steps everyone can (and should) take that will ensure a harmonious cat-filled household.

 

 

 

1. Resources. RESOURCES EVERYWHERE.

two cats eating food

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.16.36 PM

Source: The Oatmeal

Much of cat tension arises when cats feel like they have to compete for limited resources.

While you may know that there’s plenty more kibble where that came from, to a cat, every day is daunting, uncharted territory, where they have to duke it out if they want to last another day. (Have you noticed how jittery they can be? Cats are neurotic little buggers.)

So making your cats share food bowls, not putting out enough water bowls or litter boxes, etc, can all contribute to making your cats feel nervous and tense. Relaxed kitties want to make friends. Tense kitties want to rip faces off.

The rule of thumb for food and water bowls is one for each cat in the house. If your cats aren’t very fond of each other (yet!), keep their food bowls far apart, and ideally tucked away somewhere they can’t get ambushed. The rule of thumb for litter boxes is one for every cat, plus one more. Now, to me the litter box rule sounds a little intense. Does that mean I’d need THREE litter boxes for my two cats?? Don’t tell the authorities, but I only have two. (So far no one has died)

 

 

 

2. VERTICAL. SPACE.cat on a shelf

 

cat vertical spaceI really can’t over-emphasize this enough.

I’ve been to so many friends’ homes where they’ve neglected to provide any sort of cat-friendly vertical (elevated) space, and their cats are either stressed and destructive (jumping on bookshelves, furniture, fridges, you name it), or lethargic, bored, and overweight—none of which is conducive to happy cats getting along.

This is especially important if, like me, you live in a shoebox of a New York City apartment and have limited real estate to go around. Cats with less-than-ideal space to roam are likely to engage in turf standoffs or full-on turf wars. So basically, not tea parties.

Being high up is in a cat’s DNA. They’re exceptional climbers, and their instinct is always to retreat to higher ground if they feel threatened, or when they’re seeking a sanctuary for a snooze.

 

To sum up:

 

  • Elevated space makes your cats feel safe and relaxed
  • It vastly increases the square footage of cat territory in your home, resulting in less cat-on-cat tension
  • It keeps them stimulated and active with exercise

 

Vertical space can run the gamut anywhere between obnoxious (and insanely awesome) cat fortresses, like this:

go pet club cat tree1

—to “what cat? I don’t have a cat” pieces, like these wall-mounted shelves:

wave pet shelf

Photo from ihavecat.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And everything in between:

 

go pet club 62 cat treelotus cat treesauder cat sphere towerVesper cat tree

 

(Click here to see my complete guide on awesome cat-friendly vertical space.)

At the end of the day, who doesn’t love watching their cats roam around in their own mini kitty-kingdom? It’s how adults play with dolls!

 

 

 

3. Satisfy their KILL URGE.cat about to pounce

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.09.42 PM

Source: The Oatmeal

While your cats may look like innocent little fur loaves of cotton candy and love, they are, in actuality, bloodthirsty murderers.

Cats are natural predators—lithe, quick, and armed with razor-sharp teeth and claws. Every cat’s energy level varies of course, so if one cat has an extremely high prey drive while the other would prefer to sun her rotund little underside on the windowsill… see where I’m going here?

It’s up to us, their diligent cat guardians, to satiate their urge to chase down and mutilate all the living things on this earth. Otherwise, they’re forced to take out all that excess energy on each other. And you. And all of your belongings.

 

Here’s my weapon of choice for inducing cat exhaustion:

go go cat catcher

da bird cat wand< – The Go Go Cat Catcher mouse wand. The extra-whippy woven wire and realistic mouse attachment are irresistible attack fodder for my cats.
If your cats prefer destroying animals of the airborne variety, Da Bird is an awesome feathered wand that easily goes sailing around over their heads. – >

 

Try playing with your cats together, either with multiple people and multiple toys in the same area, or with one cat wand in each hand. This will help the kitties associate each other with positive things like playtime, rather than with negative things, like murder. The same goes for treat-giving: reward your kitties with treats often, and in each other’s presence.

Admittedly, running around the house flailing a cat fishing pole around gets tiring. So often, I neglect to play with Sita & Pip for days simply because I’m just so darn beat when I get home from work. That’s when automatic cat toys come in handy.

 

hot pursuit cat toy

 < – This one has seen a lot of use in my house. It’s not the most sturdily-made toy, and I’ve had to take it apart a few times to reattach a rubber band that keeps the motor whirring, but it does the trick of keeping my cats preoccupied for up to 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

4. If all else fails, REINTRODUCE.cats meeting

 

If you’ve done all of the above, and your cats still loathe the sight of each other, it’s time for a reintroduction. And I don’t mean,

“Mr. Fluffingtons, meet Lola. Lola, meet Mr. Fluffingtons…Oh, oh you’ve met? And you …you f$%king hate each other? Oh dear… I must’ve forgotten.”

I mean, start from scratch and segregate them completely. Pretend you’re bringing a new cat into the house for the first time.

Bonus tip: Artificial cat pheromones like Feliway can often help to soothe tense cats’ frazzled nerves. It replicates the natural pheromones cats release when they’re relaxed and happy. (Think of it as kitty chemical warfare in reverse, or cat heroin)

 

However, some cats will just never get along. Think about the person with the most punchable face you know. Now imagine them as your lifelong roommate. Yeah..it’s kind of like that. In these extreme cases, it might be wise to re-home one of your cats. It’ll break your heart, but everyone will be happier in the long run.

 

Happy kitties make for cuter photo-ops.

Happy kitties make for cuter photo-ops

 

 

Do you live in a multi-cat household? How do your cats get along? Is it love/hate or just love/love? (lucky you!)

 

Read on!

How to outsmart your cat when she’s an evil genius  

Make sure you’re fulfilling all your cat’s needs: The 5 Pillars Of Healthy, Happy Kitty Care

How to get your cat to stop liking you so much (Yes… that’s a thing)

 

Pin it!

You can probably already tell that your cats have distinct personalities. Kind of like people. They’re people-kitties. It makes sense then, that there will be other cat personalities that they just don’t mesh with. But good news: There are basic, cut-and-dry steps everyone can (and should) take that will help all the cats in your lives get along swimmingly. #cats #catbehavior

12 comments on “How To Help Your Cats Get Along”

  1. Me says:

    This is great! Keep up the good work :p

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Thank you kindly! :]

  2. Ana says:

    We have 3 kitties, 2 males and a female. The males hate each other and we’re really sad about it. We might try and reintroduce them. Hope it works, because we really want to keep them both. One is mine and the other is my bf’s cat and we’ve been living together for almost 3 years now. The female doesn’t mind being with them. I guess it’s a male thing.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Oh no! I feel for you. Is everyone spayed/neutered? It’s an important factor for peace in a kitty household. And (sounding like a broken record here) ample vertical space is super super important. Best of luck to you!

  3. Ki says:

    I have four. My first two, unrelated, bonded within a few months. New girl Izzy shoved her way in between the two brothers I had at the time, and now one of the brothers has passed, she and the remaining one are super close.

    Then in November I tried to get the numbers back up to three, but ended up adopting another sibling pair. Four months in and they’re all just about OK with each other.

    The two males are chill as anything, it’s just the females coming to detente at the moment. There are two cats on my bed right now, one on the wardrobe and Izzy is somewhere downstairs, probably in a cat bed.

    For a while I thought I’d ruined the incumbents’ lives and everything would be a hell of hissing and claws forever, but we introduced over a period of a month with tons of Feliway and treats, and once everyone had garden access they calmed down a lot. I’m now confident that before the summer the rescue centre can get that picture they wanted of everyone together. It wasn’t easy, but a tentative happy ending 🙂

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Amazing! Thanks for sharing your experience. Adding cats is pretty tricky and takes a ton of patience, which you seem to have in spades. We’re considering adding a third cat into our mix soon, so I’ll have more stories to tell as well!

  4. Heather says:

    I have 5 cats, 6 total, but one lives strictly outside. The newest one, a kitten we brought in before winter hit, was fine with everyone for the longest time, and now that I’ve gotten him neutered he seems to want to play more, if that’s even possible. I need to get some automatic playing devices to try to tire him out because the others don’t care for constantly being bothered. One of the oldest is also an attention hog and only allows one of the other 4 to get as much, if not more, attention from me without getting all high and mighty. I have to be careful to pet him if I pet one of the others first. It’s exhausting, but I love them all.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Haha juggling the affections of 6 cats seems exhausting! In the best way possible. My older cat always comes running when I call for the other one, which makes for some hilariously cute/awkward stand-offs. Auto cat toys are such a lifesaver! Currently awaiting the arrival of a new ball-in-a-track toy I found online. Crossing my fingers that it’s good!!

  5. Lior says:

    Excellent article ! I can surely relate, and on #2 i actually exeprienced this with my Cat Effi, and we created a unique cat hammock to give him an elevated space. and IT WORKS !!!
    It worked so well we started make this for other cat owners who saw it in our social media profile and liked this hammock.

    you are welcome to add a photo to this post section if you wish.

    ad check it out at :
    http://www.katzy.co

    or see the instagram profile :
    https://www.instagram.com/katzy.co/

    Cheers,
    Effi the Cat !

  6. Ann says:

    We have one kitty and he seems very happy with his doggy brother. My husband wants a second cat but I fear our current cat is happy in his ways and will not take kindly to a second cat. Is it ok for him to just have a doggy brother or am I damaging him?

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      You’re definitely not damaging him! Cats do need companionship, even if it’s just the steady and constant companionship of a human parent. A lonely, unhappy cat will act out by becoming needy, destructive, overweight, etc. If he’s none of those things, then everything is fine. There is no hard and fast rule that dictates companionship needs for every cat.

      If you do bring a second cat into your family, take time to introduce them slowly and gradually. Make sure you have enough real estate (vertical and otherwise) to allow each animal adequate “alone time,” should they want it.

  7. Beulah says:

    We’ve discovered cat pheromones that continuously release pheromones; it’s a plug-in. Our “Lit’l Girl” cat is remarkably friendlier when we have the dispenser constantly dispensing

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