It’s important to remember that your average domestic puss cat is a control freak! They need to feel in control of their environment in order to feel safe and therefore secure .They are solitary survivors, they naturally live alone, hunt alone and cope alone, and find sharing can be very stressful! They tend to only come together for breeding, and sometimes groups of females will come together to raise kittens together, in order to share hunting and kitten care. But….although a great many cats cope with living in groups, it’s not something that come naturally to them.
Most problems in multi-cat households come about because sharing the ‘core territory’ (otherwise known as your house and garden) is quite un-natural to them and sharing the resources (food/water/latrines) is a big source of stress. Many of these issues can be well managed however to reduced tensions. Making sure there a multiple feeding and watering stations, multiple litter trays in secluded places and plenty of entrance and exit options for the cats really helps. Most houses would find adding in an extra cat flap or two would go a long way to chilling their moggies out.
Cats under about the age of 3 years, find ‘sharing’ much easier to do, and so often cats that are brought up together can do better than cats put together later in life.
Cat that ‘get on’ with each other, will often show some degree of interaction. This is often seen with cats that greet each other with a ‘chirupp’ sound and a tail that is held fully up in the air, with only the tip flicked over. They will often share facial pheromones by rubbing cheek to cheek, and can even be seen to par take in some mutual grooming. They also sometimes sleep entwined – beware the cats that sleep on the same sofa or bed, but with their backs to each other, ears flattened, these cats are often co existing together as opposed to bonded. However given enough resources, may often live in relative harmony. Cats that actually come to blows and fight, are often living in a high state of stress and arousal and need help and changes within the household to improve their quality of life. Many cats suffer repeat medical problems, such as cystitis and over-grooming as a result of stress, and so managing their mental wellbeing is an important part of their care.
For more information speak to one of our team today. You might also find books and website from the following authors very helpful, Sarah Heath MRCVS (vet behaviourist) and Celia Haddon.