Multi-Cat Household Life Hacks
Expert tips to create harmony in your multi-cat home
1 Group Scent
Bonded cats will groom each other, which creates a group scent. This bonded behaviour is called allogrooming. If your cats are not getting along, try grooming them one at a time using the same brush or a soft cloth, which helps to spread friendly pheromones among your cats and create peace in your household.
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▸▸ A pheromone spray or diffuser, which mimics the friendly pheromones happy cats produce, can help create calm and a feeling of wellness among your cats. Try the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser, which helps reduce stress with a unique pheromone formula. (from $25, comfortzone.com)
Feline behaviourist Mieshelle Nagelschneider says, “We’ve seen pheromones be the only reason existing cats accept the newly adopted cat.”
2 Litterbox Math
“Owners should have one box per cat plus one more,” says Nagelschneider, host of My Cat From Hell. “For instance, two cats need three litter boxes. Tight on space? Multiple locations trumps number of boxes.”
If you have all your litter boxes in one location, such as the spare bathroom, it can cause hostility among your cats and hierarchy battles for who has access. It may also cause your cats to select a new litterbox location you won’t like, such as the guestroom bed.
▸▸ Multiple cats also mean those litter boxes will need more frequent cleaning. High-traffic litter box? Try the BoxiePro Scoop and Spray Litter Extender, which eliminates odour and keeps the litterbox cleaner longer via probiotics and biodegradable surfactants that encapsulate smells. ($23, boxiecat.com)
3 Your Cats are Solitary Hunters
Domesticated cats share 95.6 percent of their genome with tigers. And like their wildcat relatives, they are solitary hunters and want to eat alone. Feed your cats in separate rooms in your home. Even if it looks like they are getting along when eating next to each other, it can cause bullying later in the day as eating next to each other creates an impression of scarcity.
4 Playtime Power Moves
When cats are playing, they are actually enacting a hunting sequence. Never play with your cats at the same time with a single wand toy and expect them to share or take turns. This is against their nature—they are solitary hunters—and can cause animosity and competition.
Before you finish playing, always let your cat go in for “the kill.” Allowing them to catch the toy completes the play sequence and leaves your cat feeling satisfied instead of frustrated.
▸▸ Try the RompiCatz Feather n’ Fabric Teaser wand toy featuring pounce-able soft fabric, feathers on the tip, and a bell for extra enticing play time! (from $10, rompicatz.com)
5 To the Well
Provide multiple water locations for your multi-cat household. If you have three cats, have three water locations in very separate areas throughout the home. To your cats, three water bowls right next to each other is the same as just one water source and can lead to resource guarding or animosity.
6 Cat Scratcher Scarcity
Be sure to provide multiple scratchers in different areas of your home so one of your cats doesn’t claim ownership and restrict access. You don’t want one of your cats to resort to your new sofa because there weren’t enough scratchers available.
▸▸ Try the Catit Vesper Minou scratcher. It combines a scratchable exterior (covered in replaceable sisal scratching mats!) with a cozy hideout featuring a memory-foam cushion and two entrances so your cat won’t feel cornered! ($100, catit.ca)
Given enough resources, your cats will timeshare—just like those who buy into Mexican vacation condos. Make sure there are multiple perching areas, such as cat trees, cat shelves, cat beds, and boxes, located throughout your home so your cats can rotate through, peacefully sharing territory.
Try the Armarkat Classic Cat Tree (model B7301)! Featuring multiple levels, perching spots, a cozy cat house, a plush hammock, and sisal-wrapped posts, this tree is a multi-cat haven. ($215, armarkat.com)
8 Plentiful Prey
Instead of leaving all the cat toys in a basket, create the feeling of plentiful prey by putting out toys in different areas of your home. Rotate toys weekly to keep things interesting. We love the Frisky Furball toy from P.L.A.Y.! ($7, petplay.com).