The Right Environment for Multi-Cat Households | Dr. Elsey's
cat laying down on top of a cat tree

Creating the Right Environment for Multi-Cat Households

With multi-cat households on the rise, cat owners are increasingly becoming aware of the behavioral issues that can accompany two or more sets of whiskers. We’re here to share our advice on creating a home environment that encourages your cats to coexist happily. 

Bringing Home a New Cat

If you’re introducing your new cat or kitten to a resident household cat, take extra precaution with introductions. We recommend confining the new kitten to a room of its own for the first week. During their initial separation, you can help them acclimate to the other’s smell by wiping each cat’s fur with a towel and placing the towel under the other’s food bowl. This will help them get used to the other’s smell in a pleasant environment. After a while, switch their places by letting the new cat explore the whole house while the existing cat spends time alone.

Cat Cohabitation

When they’re finally ready to cohabitate, try setting up a dinner date for two. Feed them on either side of a partially closed door, with an opening big enough to see and smell each other. This association between food and the other’s presence can help to calm any lingering anxieties with the pleasurable activity of eating. When you finally let them meet under supervision, make sure to have enough elevated perches that one can get away from the other if necessary. Watch closely for any signs of trouble such as flattened ears, flicking tail, raised paw or hissing. On the first sign of this behavior, mediate the situation by separating your cats from one another. If all goes well, slowly increase their time together until you’re ready to leave unchaperoned.

Litter Box Separation

Make sure to have a dedicated litter box for each cat, plus an extra for community use. This will ease any territorial issues within the home by allowing each cat to have their own private space. Create these separated spaces in quiet areas of the house away from high traffic or loud appliances. Additionally, avoid placing the litter boxes side by side. Cats prefer to be aware of their surroundings, especially when cohabitating with another pet, so consider an open-top litter box to decrease any feelings of vulnerability.

Tips for Feeding Time

Just like litter boxes, it’s always a good idea to zone separate food bowls so each cat can have their own space. This separation can help avoid any territorial issues related to food and prevent feeding time from feeling like a competition. Depending on the age of your cats, you may be catering to different diets. Separating food bowls can help ensure your cats are getting their nutritional needs met while allowing you to better note any changes in their eating patterns.

A Space of Their Own

Each cat needs a place within the home to call their own where they can sleep, hide or retreat in times of stress. Incorporating multiple warm and cozy hiding spots in various places around the house will increase your cat’s comfort level—especially if they are acclimating to a new environment. From a cat’s perspective, it is much easier to relax away from areas that could make them feel crowded or vulnerable. Elevated perches, cat trees, boxes and under the bed are favorites with many cats. Once you can locate a cat’s favorite spot, try adding a bed or blanket for an additional dose of comfort.

Feline Jealousy

When welcoming a newcomer into the home, your current cat may feel they must compete for your attention. Signs of feline jealousy can include inappropriate elimination, growling, hissing or getting pushy when it comes to receiving affection from their owner. Comfort Zone® Calming Diffusers can help reduce stress response behaviors like destructive scratching and urine marking. They release calming pheromones that mimic cats’ natural, calming pheromones for up to 30 days, signaling to your cat that he or she is in a calming environment. If you continue to noticed signs of jealous behavior, try setting aside time to play and cuddle with each cat to express your affection for them. 

Territorial Marking

Territorial marking, or marking with urine, is different behavior than sitting to urinate. With territorial marking, you will see small amounts of urine on walls, furniture, against baseboards, and even on the owner’s clothes or bedding. After the cat has marked, it will simply walk away and not sniff and paw at the area as is the case with sitting to urinate in litter. Often cats will exhibit this type of inappropriate elimination if they are feeling stressed by other cats within the household. If this is the case, it is especially important to zone the litter boxes and food bowls, so each cat has their own space.

Create a positive experience for your feline family by incorporating the right factors for a harmonious home, starting with your litter box! Whether you’re welcoming a new kitten to the family or looking to improve your home environment, we’re here to help with Ultra—our #1 non-tracking litter with superior odor control perfect for multi-cat families. With excellent clumping power, Ultra makes cleaning multiple litter boxes a breeze with litter formulated to prevent moisture from reaching the bottom of the tray.