Living with others can be fun at times but it can be stressful too!
Did you know that cats are naturally solitary animals? Although they can live together happily at times, having to share their resources such as access to food, the litter tray and the great outdoors (i.e. the cat flap) can be a cause of worry and stress.
Signs of cat stress are varied but may include accidents around the house when your cat hasn’t been able to access the litter tray, cystitis, vertical scratching or spraying around the house.
To help reduce stress levels in a multi-cat household
- If there is a new cat in the neighbourhood causing stress, make sure the aggressor cat cannot be seen, for example cover the windows or remove items that may attract the aggressor cat such as bird tables.
- In a multi-cat household make sure every cat can access their valuable resources so:
- Provide a litter tray for each cat plus one extra (so no. of cats plus 1)
- Provide lots of areas for your cats to sleep and hide in, this way you expand their territories, making it easier to get along
- Provide multiple food stations and drinking opportunities so all cats can eat and drink in peace without having to worry about other cats.
- Spread these ‘resources’ around the house so they are not concentrated in one area. This stops the dominant cat from preventing the others access to any of these resources and causing upset.
- Covered litter trays can be helpful to provide more privacy for each cats when toileting but bear in mind it can also increase bullying in some multi-cat households.
- Single cat-sized sleeping perches have been shown to help reduce individual cat stress in multi-cat households.
- Placing a bell (or several bells) on the dominant cat in the household can be useful as it provides a warning to the other cats, giving them the chance to get away.
- Provide safe escape routes and hiding places to reduce bullying.
- Plug in a Feliway diffuser in the room most frequented by the cats to reduce the general stress level. Leave it plugged in for at least four weeks or until problems subside.
- Feliway spray can be applied directly to doorways and bedding areas to give extra reasurance.