Multi-cat households: The key to success
Multi-cat households can work well under the right circumstances – by identifying social groups and placing resources (food, water, litter trays, beds, scratch poles, high resting areas etc) in the correct place.
Identifying social groups:
This can be achieved by observation: which cats spend time together, grooming each other, sleeping near or touching, playing together and greeting each other nose to nose? Conversely, which cats show active aggression towards each other, which cats leave the room when another enters and which cat stares at others? The easiest way to do this is to write the names of the cats in the household and show colour-coded arrows from one cat’s name to the other in the direction that accurately describes the behaviour observed, e.g. cat A grooms cat B therefore an arrow indicating social, friendly behaviour points from A towards B on the diagram. Once all the interaction observed has been shown on the diagram then it should be possible to establish which cats group together and which work alone.
Two-dimensional plans of the property layout are useful at this stage to show how each cat or group of cats use the ‘territory’ within it. This can be achieved by observing the cats over a period of time and establishing which rooms they frequent regularly and which they avoid. If the cat resources are located in a minimum number of locations, then each group will have to cross over common areas to get to the essential provisions and these ‘potential areas of conflict’ can also be noted.
Availability/accessibility of resources:
Cats don’t share important resources with other social groups. These resources include everything a cat may need to survive and thrive, i.e. food bowls, water bowls, litter trays, beds, high resting places, private areas, scratching posts, entry/exit points and toys. If these resources are provided in sufficient numbers and distributed so that the locations chosen are accessible for each cat or social group’s core area (where they spend most of their time) then tension and conflict can often be avoided. Various suggestions have been made regarding appropriate numbers, but a commonly used resource formula is: one resource per cat, plus one extra, positioned in different locations.
Information supplied from icatcare.org