Living with multiple cats isn’t always easy. Your cats’ wildcat ancestors were mostly solitary creatures who put a lot of time and energy into defending their territories. Even though your domestic cats live indoors where it’s cozy and safe, they still maintain those wildcat territorial instincts.
Of course, wanting your cats to love each other and bond isn’t a lost cause; we’ve all seen heart-melting photos and videos of cats cuddling. Whether your cats will ever get to that point will depend upon their individual personalities, but there are several things you can do to help calm their territorial instincts and nurture peace in your multi-cat household.
Image: Marnee Pearce : Flickr
#1 – Have enough resources to go around
One of the easiest ways to prevent your cats from feeling as if their territories are being threatened is to make sure they don’t have to compete for resources like food, water, the litter box, toys, scratching posts, and bedding. It’s important to have several of each resource and to have them dispersed throughout your home. If you have all of the litter boxes in one room, for instance, your more submissive cat can become very stressed out if a more dominant cat is laying in the doorway.
Image: Heath Alseike : Flickr
#2 – Reward good behavior
Where dogs are motivated by making their humans happy, cats are motivated by benefiting themselves. That’s why many behavior problems, like scratching the side of the couch, can be solved by simply adding an option (like a top-notch scratching post) that’s more desirable to your cat. Basically, we encourage good behavior in our cats by convincing them that their good behaviors will benefit them more than their bad behaviors.
With this in mind, start paying attention to when your cats are exhibiting the kinds of behavior you want to encourage and rewarding them. See them sitting near each other without a hissy-fit? Give each of them a treat.