How to Live in a Multi-Cat Household and Keep the Peace and Harmony

by Deb at 4:50 AM • Jazmine, Kizmet45 Comments

MULTIscales Living in a multi-cat household, one of the questions I get asked most frequently, is how do they all get along so well? That’s a fair question, especially when you consider in the past couple of years I have introduced two new feline rescues into a social dynamic that was functioning like a well stacked house of cards – the slightest wrong move and the whole thing could come tumbling down with disastrous results.

Well, the truth is, they don’t always get along so well – despite how quickly Kizmet, then Jazmine fit into the mix, there have been some tiffs, bruised egos, and hurt feelings. But, for the most part, those issues have been minimal and there are a few key reasons for that:

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Hurt feelings? Tiffs? Bruised egos? Whatever is that human talking about says Rolz and Zee…

1. Dan and I make every effort possible to make sure that each of our eight cats gets special individual attention everyday.
2. We make certain that the living space we share with our cats has lots of high and low spaces, pet beds, cat condos and more so that they can have the protection and privacy they might desire to have on their own.
3. We encourage collective activities between the cats that reinforce positive rewards such as play time, treat time, grooming time, watching birds and squirrels outside the window time, and dinner time.

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One of the best moments of the day for the cats is when I groom them. All I have to do is open the “cat drawer” to take out their comb and brush and they will come running!

4. We respect that cats are cats and that they are creatures of habit and so we continue to keep our schedules with them as regular as possible, such as feeding times.
5. We are patient with the process – introducing a new cat into the social dynamic should be done gradually. Fights, hissing, and growling is normal and does not mean that things won’t work out. That is why it is always a good idea to give a new cat a room of its own in the beginning and slowly introduce it to the rest of the cats until everyone feels safe and secure.

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When we first brought Jazmine home, she had her own room with her own bed, toys, litter box, and food dishes.

6. We keep the litter boxes spotlessly cleaned and scoop all day and night long. Cats are competitive as it is – ensuring that the litter box is constantly clean lessons any chances of “accidents” happening out of territorial anger. Not to mention it’s just common courtesy. You wouldn’t want to use a dirty bathroom to do your business, would you?
7. All cats in our household have been spayed or neutered. Not only is it better for their health, but behavioral problems that can exist from an unaltered cat are virtually eliminated such as spraying and marking the house with urine. Trust me, it makes a huge difference and the fighting and aggression levels go way down.
8. Those times we have brought a new cat into the household, we made the decision to do so because the cat exhibited a certain personality and resolve that gave us an indication they would be able to handle themselves in our existing crowd without too much undue stress or trauma. While there is no guarantee to this method, evaluating your living arrangements, the personalities of your other cats, and how much time and effort you can put into easing a new cat into your household is extremely important to any decision you make to adopt a new cat.

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Both Jazmine and Kizmet have always had more than their share of spunk and cattitude and can hold their own!

Kizmet and Jazmine both exhibited a strong and confident personality and then some… Both of them took matters into their own paws when it came to fitting in and it’s actually been the other cats that have had to adjust. Little things that maybe no one else would notice – Rolz has started a fight with Peanut now and again, not so much because he is angry at her, but it is from the confusion of having a new hierarchy in the house and that is his way of channeling his anger at the situation. He and Kizmet used to be best buds and now he has been replaced by an orange and white ball of playful fluff.

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It’s not that Kizmet and Rolz aren’t friends anymore, but their relationship is not as close as it once was…

And our love muffin Peanut has become a somewhat sullen and jealous girl. She used to spend most of her day with Dan while he was on the computer and now that Jazmine has also taken up that habit, she is not happy about it and spends most of her days napping in the bedroom.

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Peanut used to spend much of her day sleeping in the dining room window next to Dan on her Sunny Seat. Jazmine has taken the seat over and Peanut prefers to nap in the bedroom now.

Zee has also changed – part of it is due to his age – the older he gets, the more possessive he has become of Dan and I, but some of it is due to Jazmine. She happens to love to be groomed and so does he. If anyone is getting a turn other than him, there may be an occasional swat, as if he is saying that he, and only he, is allowed to be brushed. He also has a tendency to sleep even closer to us at night – many a time I will wake up with him smack on top of my head and that seems to be happening with more frequency because Jazmine has now discovered the bedroom.

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Zee and Mia prefer to spend the days sharing nap time on the hamper in the bathroom… So far it has been a Jazmine free zone…

Up until last week, when Dan and I went to bed, Jazmine would be on the kitchen counter. She would not venture into the bedroom and it was almost as if the other cats had put up an invisible wall that kept her at bay. Well, curiosity got the better of her, or maybe it was a bug she was chasing, but one night she ended up in our room. She saw our toes wiggling under the blankets and that was that. Every night when we go to bed now, she runs in like an eager puppy dog so that she can defend the household from dangerous blanket monsters…

The hardest adjustment has been for Zoey and I. When I am done for the day my favorite thing to do is sit on the couch and unwind with some TV. Zoey will instantly appear and sleep on my outstretched legs. The moment Jazmine arrived, that stopped and Zoey has been spending most of her nights sleeping on the guest bed while I am watching TV. I go in and give her all sorts of loving, but she does not want any part of sharing the couch with me. I remain patient with her and it has slowly been paying off. Just a couple of nights ago, she jumped up on the couch with me again and I also caught her grooming Jazmine for the first time which is a big step.

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This is the guest room where Zoey spends much of her time now… Not such a bad place to be…

It will all work out – none of the issues are drastic and truthfully, it’s not like Jazmine is really bothering any of them. There are no cats cowering under beds, the blood curdling screams coming from cats in battle is minimal, and all of them continue to eat and use the litter box with no retaliatory territorial issues. And Dan and I go out of our way to make certain that everyone is getting extra love and attention.

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Sorry guys… yes… she’s still here and she’s staying too…

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How could a face this precious possibly be the cause of any problems?!!!

Jazmine remains oblivious to it all and is clueless that she hasn’t lived with us her whole life. Her newest fascination is the shower – she has discovered that bugs can come up from the drain and she has become a diligent little soldier keeping an eye out for these dangerous beasts… So, all in all, the negatives have been far outweighed by the positives and for those of you considering adopting another cat after reading about mine, I would ask that you try it, but only if the circumstances and timing are right for you.

Eight cats are not for everyone, but maybe you have only one cat and are thinking about getting him or her a companion. If you do it and the relationship clicks, its one of the best things you can do for your feline friend. I just suggest that you really research what it is that you want – there are so many cats that could use a good home – from sweet, happy, and healthy young kittens to senior cats, to cats with disabilities or illnesses. All of them want to be loved, but they need to be placed in an environment that is best suited to their needs and the needs of your other cats to make it work out. Reach out to others – ask questions and get as much advice and information as you can before you make your decision. After all, a pet is a lifetime commitment and you want everyone to be as happy and stress-free as possible.

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Harley remains Harley… As long as she is fed and has her spot next to me on the couch, she’s not going to let something like the addition of another cat spoil her day…

What about those of you with more than one cat? How long did it take for them to get along? Any tips to share in ways you keep the peace and balance in your household?

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  1. Claude West says:

    Nice blog and enjoyed all of the pictures of your extended family. It shows that you have a lot of patience to care for so many kitties.
    One thing I have experienced with a multicat family is the litter boxes can present a problem. Some of my cats have taken advantage of others when they are using the box. The solution is quite simple….remove the covers so that levels the playing field. Hard to sneak up and attack when kitty has a 360 view.

    • Deb says:

      Claude – I have never been a fan of the covered litter box. I think cats need the freedom of an open box and yes, it is very important that they feel they can survey the lay of the land without fear of attack while they are doing their business!

  2. Happy Calendar Cat Day to Kizmet.

  3. Ms. Phoebe's Mum says:

    You have done a wonderful job integrating your new fur kids in to the home, and all the fur kids each has such a special personality and relationship with the other. When I had my original three just a few years ago, they tolerated one another but Ms. Phoebe and her sister Černy were the only two who interacted with one another without it ending in a spat. Phoebe was here first eleven yrs ago, 2 months later Černy, and then 2 1/2 months after our feral boy Kaspars. Phoebe was and insisted on being top cat and Černy never challenged this, so they had no issues. Kaspars never challenged it yet it was odd because whenever he came near the girls- especially Pheebs he would growl, spit and freak out. She soon realized all she had to do was look at him and he would flip, which became a great amusement to her. Both girls in the first months would try to run him off from cat beds, food, toys but eventually accepted he was here to stay. Černy and he later called a truce, but up until the last days of her life he was afraid of Phoebe. With both girls having gone to the Bridge in the last year and a half, his adjustment was strange. He seemed to notice them not being here and was a comfort to my sadness. He now has become so domesticated in ways I never thought I would see! I never saw either ladycat beat him up, so why he had such fear for Phoebe I still do not know, and why she didn’t like him I’m not sure either: was it one too many cats when he arrived? Was it a personality thing? Male vs. Female thing?
    Regardless the reason I was extremely fortunate despite their differences that they all seemed to accept a tolerance of one another in a desire for a forever home with lots of love, no worries for food ever again, no worries of being beaten (Černy unfortunately was rescued from such a sad state & had severe anxiety/trauma issues for years after), no worries for the dangers of the street (Kaspars), no worries for being left to fend in the country with 4 kits due to be born any day (Phoebe). The lessons on life these three have taught me are ones I will remember always and have been helpful even in my own relationships with other humans. We humans could learn a lot about getting along, accepting life for the better by putting aside differences for the sake of the whole from cats such as my three did. Even though they each suffered and overcame different struggles and maybe were not one another’s biggest fans, they managed to live peacefully together and at times look out for one another- how many humans are successful at this? Eleven years no less!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for sharing your story with your family of cats Ms. Phoebe’s Mum. I especially appreciate your words of wisdom you share in the last paragraph of your comments – yes, if only more people could learn to coexist in peace…