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Keeping cats happy in multi-cat households


Many cats that live together are in separate social groups, and it is very stressful for them to have to share resources. Cats are solitary feeders and find communal feeding very difficult (hence the tense and alert ear position of the cats in the photograph). They may come together to eat because food is such an important resource that it overrides their desire to keep their distance. However, coming close together in order to eat is very stressful and can increase tension between cats. It is important to consider the number and distribution of essential resources (including food stations, water bowls, litter trays and resting places) in order to keep your cats as happy as possible and to reduce tension between cats in the same household.

Multi Cat Household

So, what can you do to make things easier for your cats?

• Provide an excess of resources so there is no competition and no need for cats to share.

• Food stations should be separate from water bowls, so the water can’t be seen from the food station and vice versa - cats have an aversion to drinking where they eat, and many cats don’t drink enough to keep themselves in optimum health. Choose ceramic or stainless steel water bowls, not plastic, and fill them close to the brim. Change the water each day.

• Provide a choice of food stations in various locations around the house, in safe areas which are not visually vulnerable (e.g. not by a patio door), and if possible allow cats to help themselves - they like to graze and will preferably eat at least 15 small meals per day.

• Provide one litter tray per cat plus one spare, in various different quiet and safe locations around the home. Most cats prefer a fine clumping clay-based litter, filled to at least 7cm depth. Remove faeces and urine every day and change all the litter monthly. Ideally provide a choice of covered or open trays as individual cats may have a preference for one type over another.

• Provide a choice of lots of different warm and comfortable resting places, particularly elevated ones (consider cat furniture, cat igloos, clearing space on shelves, placing a blanket on top of wardrobes and cardboard boxes).