How to prevent cat fights when you have more than one cat

Three of my 11 kids
Three of my 11 kids

Introducing a new cat to your household the least stressful way.

 

If you are anything like me and cannot resist the lure of the cat, you may find you have ended up with a multi-cat household. You might not have planned it, but you may have collected an extra kitten, or a few neighborhood strays along the way. Of my eleven cats, seven of them were found as strays in my own backyard. There are more than that out there, but I have learned about space limitations and can no longer add anymore to my herd.

Managing a multi-cat household is something I have much experience in, having had no less than two at any given time over the past 30 years. Managing a multi-cat household is not difficult if you understand the basic psychology of the cat.

I do not allow any of my cats outside, so they are in each other's company 24/7. I needed to learn how to make this work. Most of the time my house is so quiet you can hear a pin drop, but it wasn't always so.

I learned the hard way how to do all of this. I made many mistakes. I learned what I should have been doing all along, and now I know how to manage my multi-cat household. I want you to know how to do it too. The fur rarely flies anymore at my house! How's it going for you?

Space Considerations- Amount of Cats

Needless to say, the smaller your living space and the more cats you have, the more problems you will potentially have. I say potentially, because I have heard of people having more cats than I do and they all get along fine, with no territory issues. My husband and his first wife had twenty or more cats at any given time, and he claims they had no fighting issues. I tend to believe that he was just unobservant, because the likelihood of that is almost nil.

I own a 1600 square foot house. Not big by any standards, but it has three bedrooms plus another room that is filled with my husbands stuff and not accessible by foot traffic. (Mount Crapmore, I call it.) and a large dining room, which serves as a sunroom for the cats. I have eleven cats, many of which do not get along. I have worked it out though, in a manner that works for us. It took time and patience and creativity on my part, but I did it. 99% of the time my house is at peace. At the end of this article I will tell you how we did it. But first, I am going to tell you the right way to do things so you don't have to end up doing what we had to do.

Basic Needs First

Cats have a few basic needs that, if met, can make running a multi-cat household a much smoother experience. Above all, cats are territorial, and are not pack animals like dogs are. They prefer a lot of space to call their own. They do not easily share space, or possessions and can make quite a fuss when forced to live in close proximity to other cats. Cats are much more sensitive to changes in their environment than dogs are, and dislike change immensely. Stress, in the form of too many housemates can cause behavioral issues. I am going to show you how I have managed to keep relative peace among my current eleven cats.

I will cover:

Litter box issues

Feeding areas

The need for vertical space

Preparing for a New Arrival

 

The first steps to avoiding potential problems is to make sure when you bring a new cat into your house, that you introduce them in the correct manner. There is a bit of a science to this, and some rules that if followed, will assure a relatively smooth transition for the new cat and the existing ones. Believe me when I tell you, if you don't do this right, there is no undoing the damage.

There is a product on the market designed to reduce stress in cats. It is called Feliway, or Comfort Zone. It is available as a plug-in, or as a spray. I have used this for years. I no longer need it, but when the fur was flying and the cats were yowling, this stuff was terrific for reducing stress. If you have some of this on hand before the new cat's arrival, you can help facilitate a smoother transition for the existing cats and your new kid.

It is a simulated cat pheromone spray, which tells cats through scent, that all is safe and well in their world. It does NOT get sprayed on the cat, but into the air around the room, or on the furniture at cat level. It can be sprayed in your cat carrier 30 minutes before placing a cat inside. This makes them feel calmer.

You can actually get Comfort Zone much cheaper on eBay than in the stores, sometimes as much as 50% cheaper, which is great, because it is a little pricey. I personally prefer the spray to the plug-ins. I just feel that it is better distributed in the room that way. Just a tiny spray for a second or so is all that is needed. I think it lasts longer in spray form as well.

Important! Do Not Disregard This

Please know that you have to devote time and have patience in order to create the result you want. If you want to have a peaceful house with all factions getting along, there is a series of steps that must be taken for this to happen. Don't throw in the towel if you are getting impatient. A little time spent doing this the right way will reward you with a peaceful house for the lifespan of your cats, and remember, that can be up to at least twenty years.

These steps can take as little as a week, or as much as a month. I had one of my cats isolated in her safe room for four to six weeks. My stray mommy cat and her babies I had separated for about three months. None of my other cats were ever isolated like that, and those are the ones who all have issues.

The results are worth the effort. Make sure all family members are aware of the plan and don't mess it up by over-enthusiasm to get the introductions completed.

The Worse Mistake You Can Make

The absolute worse thing you can ever do is to bring home a new cat or kitten and toss them into the mix.

All hell will break loose and injury can result. All this will accomplish is a lot of stress for all parties, and set an unfavorable tone for the future of the relationship between cats. New additions need to be introduced very slowly. Had I known this a long time ago, I could have avoided many problems and a lot of stress for my cats and me. Stress is the underlying issue for many health problems, so let's avoid it, okay?

Two of my boys

Instead, Do This.

You will need to have a separate room available where the new cat can go immediately upon arrival. Have it set up with a litter box, and a feeding station. Always keep the food bowls away from the litter box. You don't eat in your bathroom and neither will a cat.

This room will need to be reserved for the new cat for possibly several weeks or longer.

Make sure it is not a room that the older cats are used to being in frequently. A spare bedroom is best, one that won't be missed by the existing cats. You don't want to set up a situation where the older cats feel resentment at a loss of their territory and associate it with the new arrival.

Make sure it is a safe and quiet space for new kitty, where she can get her bearings and adjust to a new environment. Place a soft blanket down for her to sleep on, and make sure there is something she can climb on and hide under or behind. New kitties are often skittish and need to be able to hide to feel safe. New kitties often hide for a few days when first brought home. This is natural. Do not hunt her down from her hiding places and force her to socialize with you if she is not comfortable. Let her get used to the sounds and smells of her new house.

Make sure the sanctuary room is safe, with no hanging cords, breakables or other dangers. If you already have cats, you probably already know what is and isn't cat safe.

Step One- Smells and Sounds Only- No Visual Contact

Bring new kitty home in a carrier and right into her safe room. No visual contact with the older cats.

Under no circumstances do you allow the older cats into the room that new kitty is in. The goal is to let the old cats know that there is a new addition to the house, but in a manner they can adjust to easily. The older cats will be able to smell the new cat under the door. This is step one. Allow the older cats to get accustomed to the idea of a new cat for several days at minimum, through smell only. No visual contact. If you rush this procedure all hell can break loose and you will have to start again from scratch. No good comes of hurrying this process.

Don't act different towards your old cats. Never scold them if they hiss or growl and park themselves at the other side of the sanctuary room. This is natural and an adjustment period for them. There is a stranger in their midst and they need to get used to her smell.

If you act casual and don't make a big deal of it, your older cats will be much more relaxed as well. Cats are emotional sponges, pick up on our emotions, and are affected by them. If you are cool, they will be too. I'll tell you an anecdote about that later on.

Your older cats may show some redirected aggression among themselves from the stress of the new kitties presence. If you see them fighting among themselves, let them calm down before getting on with the process of introducing the new cat. They need to know that this new cat is not the end of their world.

Step Two- Possession Exchange

Now that your existing cats know there is a new kid on the block, you need to further get them used to the idea. This is accomplished by doing a possession exchange. Let your older cats and new cat get their scent on a piece of fleece or an old tee shirt of yours. Let them sleep with it a few days to transfer their scent.

You can also use a pair of socks for this. Let your older cats and the new cat sleep with a pair of clean socks in their bedding for a few days. Rub the socks over each group of cats to saturate it with their scent. Then do an exchange. Switch the socks between the older cats and the new kitty to let them get used to the new scents up close. They may act a little aggressive towards the object. If so, proceed slowly. Repeat the scented object exchange for a few days.

If you have very mellow older kitties, this whole procedure may go a lot easier. Sometimes you just can't tell how an older member of the group will react to a new addition. It is much better to be cautious, because you can't un-ring a bell. Once the damage is done, it's done, and you will have to deal with it, like I did. I'll explain my mistakes later on and how I had to make a major adjustment.

Step Three- Exchanging Spaces

After a period of scent exchange, we can proceed to the space exchange. You will first need to place your primary cats into another room where they can chill out for an hour or so. Make sure they are securely put away and do not escape.

Now you can open the door to the safe room and allow new kitty to come out and explore, but only if she wants to. It can be intimidating to a new cat, curious as they can be. Don't force her out of her safe room, just leave the door open and let her exit at her own pace.

If she comes out, let her have the run of the house, (supervised closely of course) so that she can smell the other cats and so that she can leave her scent in their territory. Play with her a bit, or offer her a treat, so that she associates the house with something pleasurable. Do not let her use the older cats litter box, however, as this can set up a litter box avoidance issue for the older cats in the future.

Now you will need to take the new kitty and place her in a separate room for a while. A small bathroom will do for now. Let the older cats have the run of the house and explore her room if they want to. Allow them to smell around it and get used to her scented space. Don't force them into the room. Let them proceed as they will. They don't need to spend excess time in there; just a little visit is fine.

After the space exchange is over, place all cats back in their original territory. New cat goes back to her safe room, older cats in their own space. Congratulations, you are on your way! Repeat this step for a couple days, allowing new cat longer periods out of her room, but not so much that the older cats are feeling put out and resentful.

Step Four- We Have Visual Contact

Here is where you can expect some initial signs of stress. You will hear hissing and low growls at this step, most likely. The easiest way to do this step is to have two (or three if needed) baby gates that you can stack on top of each other in the doorway of new kitties room. The goal is to allow safe visual contact, without physical contact.

This step worked well in our house for the last few cats, (I didn't know about it until then) and it should for you too. I had installed actual screen doors on two of my rooms, just for this very purpose, but baby gates work fine as well. I mean the vinyl baby gates that cannot allow even the smallest kitten to escape, not the ones with spaced out bars that any cat could squeeze through.

Place the gates in the doorway; making sure none of the cats can climb in or out. It's going to be a pain in the neck for a few days or so for you to get in the room, but I assure you it is worth it for a peaceful house for years to come. Do what you have to do now and you will all be happy you did later on.

To make sure all the cats are feeling okay with each other, you will need to set up some positive associations. Start giving the existing cats small treats near the baby gate. Do the same thing for new kitty. Make sure that both sides of the gate are fed treats at the same time so the cats get used to each other by sight, smell, and positive associations. Food is a great bribe for cats! I still do this with some of my cats, even years into their relationship, as there are still some problems resulting from my NOT following the rules. SIGH!

Gradually place the treats closer and closer so they are eating right next to each other on opposite sides of the gate.

Always have patience with your cats. Never yell or scold them for acting out of instinct. It creates an air of mistrust and they will fear you. No good comes of that. Also, it could create a negative association with the newcomer; the very last thing you want.

Good job. Have patience, it's almost over.

Hissy Fit

Step Five- Allowing Contact

This is where we proceed cautiously. A spritz of Comfort Zone at this point would be a good idea. We are going to open the baby gate and allow contact under supervised conditions.

Be neutral towards all cats, and allow their interaction to proceed at their own pace. Remember, you are upsetting their world. They did not ask for another roommate so you have to go slow.

Should it look like trouble is brewing, you need to divert their attention. Toss a toy to distract them. Get their attention off the problem. Have a laser pointer handy. Again, make their association with each other a positive experience.

Don't get upset at your older cats if they show aggression. This only reinforces the bad behavior and undoes all of the positive associations you worked so hard to create.

Allow the physical interaction for a short period of time, and if all is going well, increase it daily. If all is not going well at all, you need to go back to an earlier step where the cat's level of tolerance was better. Hopefully if you followed these steps properly, your introductions will go well.

Eventually you will be able to incorporate your new cat fully into the household. Still allow her to retreat to the safety of her sanctuary room as she feels the need. Eventually all cats will become desensitized to each other's company.

Lover kitties

LitterBox Issues in a Multi-cat Home

Here is where a lot of litter box issues happen in a multi-cat house. The rule is one litter box PER CAT plus one extra. More problems can be avoided this way than I can tell you. Many cats will only use their own box and no other. Cats generally dislike sharing a litter box. A dominant cat can block access to the litter box in subtle ways that you may never notice. Is your cat lying in the doorway where the box is located? Does he stalk anyone trying to use the box? Does he lay in wait to pounce on someone in the box? Does he follow the other cat to the box and badger her? Does your cat have to cross the path of another cat just to get to the litter box?

All of these problems can be avoided if there are enough boxes. Have one per cat and one to spare. The last thing you need is litter box avoidance issues because that results in inappropriate elimination outside of the box, perhaps on your bed or a pile of clothes. If a cat does not feel safe in her litter box, where she is most vulnerable, she will eliminate elsewhere, usually in a quiet and out of the way location. You will find this out the hard way if you do not supply enough places for them to do their "business."

Keep the litter boxes spread around the house. Do not locate them all together for the reasons I listed above. Many cats do not like covered boxes as it keeps odors in, and to a cat whose sense of smell is a million times more sensitive than ours, this can cause litter box aversion in itself. Some cats don't mind a covered box. Supply BOTH styles so your cats have a choice. Of all my litter boxes, I only have three covered ones, as a couple of my cats do prefer privacy. If a cat knows she has an escape route out of the litter box from an aggressive housemate, she will feel safer.

I have litter boxes located in six rooms in my house, but then again, with eleven cats, I need to. I scoop them every morning like clockwork. I think everyone knows the boxes need daily scooping, right? Never let your box go for more than 24 hours without scooping , especially in a multi-cat household. That alone will cause much stress, and as a cat mommy or daddy, it is your responsibility to keep your cat's environment happy and stress free.

In case you are wondering, no my house does not smell. Trust me, I have had enough non-cat people here to tell me how surprised they are, considering the amount of cats I have. I keep the boxes clean, like I should.

Kitten highjacks toilet paper!

Feeding Time

In a multi-cat household you may find it a good idea not to line up the dinner plates like an assembly line. Many cats do not like to eat in close proximity to other cats.

With my eleven fur kids, I space out the feeding between three rooms, as some of the more dominant cats tend to takeover another cat's dish. Each of my cats gets their food on their own plate, and placed in the same spot at every meal. I wash 22 plates a day, as I feed them twice daily. You can always use paper or other disposable plates, but it gets expensive and it is bad for the environment. My cats feel safe and secure with their set routine. Your mileage may vary, but it is something to consider.

The best way to ensure that all your cats are feeling great and are at the peak of health is to feed them a species appropriate diet. Food additives and toxins that are in standard commercial cat food cause additional stress on the body and can affect mood and temperament. This can cause aggression.

To learn more about appropriate cat nutrition, safe cat food, and what to feed your cat, please read my HUB: Commercial cat food is deadly.

In a multi-cat household you may find it a good idea not to line up the dinner plates like an assembly line. Many cats do not like to eat in close proximity to other cats.

With my eleven fur kids, I space out the feeding between three rooms, as some of the more dominant cats tend to takeover another cat's dish. Each of my cats gets their food on their own plate, and placed in the same spot at every meal. I wash 22 plates a day, as I feed them twice daily. You can always use paper or other disposable plates, but it gets expensive and it is bad for the environment. My cats feel safe and secure with their set routine. Your mileage may vary, but it is something to consider.

The best way to ensure that all your cats are feeling great and are at the peak of health is to feed them a species appropriate diet. Food additives and toxins that are in standard commercial cat food cause additional stress on the body and can affect mood and temperament. This can cause aggression.

To learn more about appropriate cat nutrition, safe cat food, and what to feed your cat, please read my article: Commercial cat food is deadly.

Boyfriends :)

The Importance of Vertical Space

I cannot state this emphatically enough. Cats NEED vertical space. They are hunters and climbers by nature and must have the ability to climb, and observe the world around them. It allows them to feel safe, exercise and have a place to escape and chill out. Have you ever seen a nature show about larger cats, such as leopards or panthers? Have you ever seen them hanging out, draped over a tree branch watching the world go by? Same thing. They love it and it is enjoyable to them. A high up cat is a happy cat.

In a multi-cat household this is an absolute necessity. Your cats need to be able to get away from the other cats and have a spot of their own. Cats are extremely territorial and have to be able to claim a piece of your real estate for themselves. Tall furniture can suffice for one or two cats, but the more cats you have, the greater the need is for individual territories.

If you deny your cats the ability to climb up on top of bookshelves, or other high places, you make them very stressed and unhappy. When cats are stressed, they are prone to fighting. By increasing vertical space, you increase their territory. More territory = happy kitties.

Some of my cat trees

Cat Furniture- Essential Equipment

In my small house, I have no less than twelve cat trees, cat condos, whatever you want to call them. I have one in the basement as well. Every single cat has something to climb if they want to, in addition to the bookcases, entertainment center, tops of dressers and chests, etc. You get the idea? You don't need to be as radical as I am. I am a fanatic and I know it. My house is largely decorated for the well-being of my cats. My comfort is secondary to that of my cats. I have the ability to do that however, as it is just my husband and myself. There are no human kids to use up good cat space. (Just kidding. Don't send me hate mail.)

Some of my cat trees are to the ceiling; some are only three feet tall. I have a variety and I give my cats a nice selection.

Good Inexpensive Cat Furniture

I found that the cat trees and kitty condos that are available in places like PetsMart and Petco are a huge rip off. They charge exorbitant prices for them and then you have to figure out how to get this massive piece of furniture in your vehicle.

There is a much easier and cheaper way. Only one of my twelve cat trees was bought at a pet store. I probably paid less for all my cat trees than you would pay for three at a regular pet supply store. They routinely charge hundreds. This is just not necessary.

I'll tell you where to get top-notch cat trees for less; eBay! I have bought most of my cat trees from a couple different sellers on eBay. You will notice that most of the cat tree sellers start the bidding very low. The reason for this is that the actual cost is built into the shipping. They do this to avoid paying excess eBay listing fees, but who cares as long as the total price is right. Sometime sellers offer these cat trees at less than $100 with free shipping!

"Armarkat" and "Aerocattree" are the two sellers I have bought from for several years. The cat trees are sturdy and easy to assemble. They offer every size and height requirement you could ask for. They come by UPS and they ship quickly. I highly recommend both of these cat tree dealers.

My largest cat tree

Something Totally Different for Climbing

I came across something very unique recently. For those of you who may not have the space for several cat trees, maybe you can consider adding climbing areas this way:

http://www.katwallks.com/index.htm

http://www.katwallks.com/index.htm

There is a short video there to show you how this cool cat concept works.

And here is another similar design:

http://www.catsplay.com/cat_wall_systems.php3

http://www.catsplay.com/cat_wall_systems.php3

Baby girl on her tree

When the Fur Really Flies

 

If the fur is literally flying through your house and your dust bunnies are chasing you, you may need a Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner. Seriously, I burned out three regular style vacuums before I found out about Dyson.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of excess fur in my house. For the sake of my sanity I have removed most of my carpeting so I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. So now I have a lot of hardwood floors with dust bunnies rolling around.

If you really want a good vacuum that gets up the pet hair, consider the Dyson Animal, made just for this purpose. Regular vacuums have bags and filters that get clogged at the first hint of fur, and I literally burnt out three vacuums this way, while having only four cats at the time. My Dyson has never clogged in the five years I have owned it. It cost me around $400 at Sears and it was worth every penny. The suction is so strong on this machine, it will get up things from your floors and carpets that you don't even know are there.

The Story of My Cats and How I Got so Many

I did not mean to collect cats. Really, I didn't.

I didn't know up until a few years ago that there was a right way and a wrong way of adding a cat to my household. I had no idea that there could be problems, and I was largely unaware of a lot of things of which I should have been aware. I was lucky I guess, that up to the point I started having problems a few years ago, that I didn't seem to have any inter-cat fighting.

I had two cats when I met my husband, (brothers) and he had two, but one soon passed on. That left us with three, his tortie girl and my two boys. There was no introductory period when I let my two boys meet his girl. I didn't know better, but I was lucky because his girl was used to living with twenty other cats in her life at one point and anything less didn't faze her.

Months later our upstairs neighbor's cat had three kittens. I talked my husband into taking two, and found a home for the third with a relative. Kittens are pretty easy to blend in and our two boys were the two mellowest cats on the planet so it was easy. The kittens took to my boys very well and they became surrogate daddies to them. So now we had five cats and we bought our house.

After moving into our house we saved our orange boy, Pumpkin. He wasn't a stray, but his owner was neglectful so we adopted him. Now there were six. I was unaware that Pumpkin's sudden presence in my house was causing my now two-year- old girl kittens some stress. I started finding that my sofa was peed on frequently and didn't know the cause. It was one of my little girls, but I didn't realize it at the time, nor was I cognizant of cat relationships and territory issues. My little girl was stressed and urinating inappropriately because of it. Eventually that stopped, but she has gotten cystitis from time to time due to stress issues. The urinary track is often the first place stress in a cat will show. It is also the first place a poor diet can manifest its symptoms. (See my cat food article.)

In the meanwhile, my husband's old tortie kitty got cancer and we had to euthanize her eventually.

Number seven was unplanned, of course. Seven was my fluffy girl Lillianna. She was rescued from the shelter by an acquaintance living at my mother's house who planned on giving her to his mother. (It's complicated) Turns out his mom didn't want another cat, so I took Lillianna when she was a few months old. She became the young lover to my Pumpkin. She seemed to adapt to our house well, but again, my original two girls were not happy at all. Lillianna eventually became a little of a bully towards the two girls who showed fear of her.

Number eight was a stray from my mother's neighborhood, another girl. She is a gorgeous tortie whose personality is a dead ringer for our original tortie. It was freaky! As a stray in my mother's back yard she was as affectionate as you could ever want a cat to be. I brought her home and tossed her into the mix. HUGE mistake. My little gentle girl was so terrified at the new cats around her she freaked out and became a stressed out mess. She never fights, but she constantly growled and hissed at her housemates. It has been about six years and she has mellowed slightly.

And then came the problem.

Love triangle

My Cats- Part two

In the summertime about five years ago, a very slinky striped cat tabby cat started coming around my yard. I started feeding him. He looked just like my husband's niece's cat Petie, who had passed away. He used to drink out of my birdbath and was a beautiful boy who seemed pretty content in my yard. Well, winter came and with it a snowstorm. One snowy night, as my husband was taking out the trash, Petie (we named him after the deceased Petie), came up the driveway and into the garage and that was the end of that. We couldn't put him back out into a snowstorm. I kept him in the basement for a few days to acclimate him to us and so I could isolate him and get him to the vet before allowing him contact with the others.

Petie was extremely snuggly with me, curling up on my lap and going to sleep. I thought he would be a very good boy. He could have been, he might have been, had I introduced him in a proper fashion. He too, was thrown into the mix and we have never recovered from my mistake. He was so stressed at his new surroundings, that he became very defensive and soon started stalking the other cats at the litter boxes and chasing them around the house. My original girl kitties became so terrified of him that they started getting urinary track problems again and became terribly skittish.

By now I loved Petie so much that I couldn't get rid of him, yet I could not allow my original cats to be stressed in their own house. I had to do something and do it fast. I had no choice, and the decision I made was a lifesaver. My house is such that the dining room (sunroom) and my bedroom are additions to the original house and are separated off the kitchen. My husband and I went to Home Depot and bought a lightweight, wooden, screen door and installed it to section off my house into two areas. Cat's claws cut through screen pretty fast, and as you may know, screening can be fun to climb, so I bought these metal mesh "pet grates" at Home Depot and installed them in place of the screening. The house is now separated into two sections and Petie no longer had access to any of the cats that are afraid of him.

Three years ago a beautiful black lady cat started hanging out with the feral black cat we had been feeding for a few years. I feel that he brought her to us on purpose because he knew we would take care of her. As it turns out, we got a lot more than we bargained for. I noticed she was a nursing momma kitty and I found her secret stash of kittens under my shed. And that is how we got number 10, 11, 12, and 13. Emily had three kittens (thank GOD that was all she had!) and for the first time ever, we isolated her and her babies in my backroom. I did it to protect the tiny kittens, not because I knew about sanctuary rooms. It was the best thing I could have ever done. We added a screen door there too and kept them confined for almost three months. Because of the isolation and the screen door, Emily and her babies have had zero problems with our existing cats. Petie was non-plussed by them, and even took to being a daddy figure to the kittens once they came out of the room. To this day he is a best friend to the boy kitten.

In the meanwhile my original boy cat became very ill with an extremely rare brain tumor and a condition called Acromegaly, as well as diabetes and cancer. We had him euthanized when his quality of life became uncomfortable for him. He was 15.

Emily and one of her kittens eventually moved into the sunroom with the other cats, leaving Petie, two of the kittens and my old boy living in the main part of the house. Emily is now "married" to Pumpkin and there is a lot of love between them. She is a very gentle and sweet cat and doesn't like to leave his side. I like to joke that she is his second wife.

Pumpkin comes and goes to both sections, as does Lilliana. There is some crossover on occasion, but only with the cats that can tolerate Petie's dominance issues.

And all was fairly well, until two years ago one more little girl showed up in my backyard. She was so stunningly beautiful that I cannot believe someone let her go. She was a little shy at first but soon warmed up to me as I started feeding her daily. Do I need to tell you where this is headed? It was November and the winter chill had already set in, so I made preparations. I set up my den as her sanctuary room. I was going to do it right this time. I let my new little long-haired calico stay in her safe room for anywhere from four to six weeks, with a screen on the door and her being able to see out. I kept the bottom part of the door covered at first so they could smell but not see her.

Eventually she got very tired of being locked up in her room and started rattling the door all the time. That was my clue to let her out. As it turns out, because she had contact through the screen door of only the cats in this end of the house, she gets along with all of them. She does not get along with my "sunroom" cats, and so she is not allowed back there.

Petie actually had a lot more problems than I am mentioning, but let me tell you this. I was stressed to the max with him and at my wits end. I thought about re-homing him ( which the thought of made me cry hysterically), I had him on herbal supplements to calm him, and flower essences, homeopathy, you name it, I tried it. I was going through a period of intense emotional upheaval and my stress was uncontrollable. I became obsessed and focused all my energy on Petie and his bad behavior. And that was precisely the problem.

Remember how I told you earlier that cats are emotional sponges? Petie became more stressed when I focused on him. As time went on and I got a handle on my stress, he calmed down a lot. Once I realize that I could not change him and that I had to love and accept him for who he was, I calmed down and so did he. He is a pretty good boy most of the time. He has his moments, still will chase Pumpkin sometimes, but when he does, I know he is doing it because he is stressed. So, I give my boy what he needs, a little sanctuary of his own. We have made our basement available to him to expel his excess energy. He has his own litter box, cat tree, and furniture, as well as some sunny windows with a ground view, perfect for a cat. He is happy when he gets some time away from the others, and frankly, so I am.

And that is how I manage my multi-cat household. Is it perfect? Of course not. You are never going to completely alleviate inter-cat hostility, but you sure can reduce it a lot.

Cats fight when they become bored too, as well as any number of other reasons. Check out the books I have listed at Amazon, ones that have worked for me in addressing some of the issues that can affect a cat's behavior.

Keep a good supply of catnip mice, balls, things that hang that they can bat at, a variety of cat trees and give them enough litter pans and space, and you too can successfully manage a multi-cat household.

Sweet Pete

Kitty Litter Boxes- Make sure you have enough!

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

Susan 6 years ago

Excellent, best advice.

Submit a Comment
New comments are not being accepted on this article at this time.
Click to Rate This Article
working