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Cat Happiness Multicat Household

Cat Happiness Multicat Household

Pet cats retain many behaviors of their wild ancestor, Felis lybica, a solitary hunter of African and Arabian savannas and grasslands. As a small cat, they evolved as both predator and prey, and most feline behavior is designed to enable the cat to hunt safely (eating up to 10-20 small prey per day) and to protect itself (from other larger predators). As solitary hunters, they rely on watchfulness, familiar territory, and routine to feel safe. This need for a familiar and safe environment is critical for addressing your cat’s behavioral and physical health problems; bladder disease, overgrooming, vomiting, and obesity can all result from stress. Below is the current plan to help fulfill your cat’s needs in your home.

Safe Places

Key principles: • A safe space is a private and secure area, often in a raised location. For cats with limited mobility, accommodations to reach higher locations should be made. • Cats seek a sense of enclosure, isolation, and/or seclusion.

Where can your cats go to avoid noises and/or unwanted human or animal interactions?

  • Room
  • Enclosed porch
  • Closet Basement
  • Other

What will separate your cats from a stressor?

  • Closed door
  • Baby gate
  • White noise
  • High perch
  • Stairs
  • Other

While in their safe place, what can you provide for comfort and mental stimulation?

  • Lasting food toy
  • Window
  • Interesting scents
  • High perch/bed
  • Other

Play & Predatory Behavior

Key principle:  Cats should be able to engage in predatory play and feeding behaviors.

How will you provide outlets for important hunting behaviors (searching, stalking, chasing, catching)?

  • Stuffed animals
  • Electronic toy
  • Laser toy
  • Food puzzles
  • Other

How often will you rotate your cats’ toys?

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Twice a month
  • Monthly

Try to commit to playing with each of your cats for 3-5 minutes a day (cats are dawn & dusk hunters).


  • When I wake up
  • After breakfast/dinner
  • Before bedtime
  • When I brush my teeth

Can you provide your cats with safe outdoor time?

Catio enclosure Harness walking Safe deck/porch fenced yard

Resource Locations

Key principles:

  • Cats can very subtly guard resources for other cats by sitting and staring.
  • Each of your cats should be able to reach key resources without having undesirable interactions with another cat/pet or human. This can be achieved by having a dedicated portion of the house for each cat or having one more of each resource than cats that live in the house (e.g. 3 cats = 4 litter boxes, 4 perches, 4 food areas).
  • Each resource should be separated by a wall or meaningful space (e.g. litter boxes should be in separate rooms, and food and water separated by at least 3 feet of space or wall).

Litter boxes are large, easy access, located in quiet locations.

Litter is soft to the touch (e.g. sand, clay, grass-based) and unscented.

Litter boxes will be scooped of soiled clumps at least once a day, and litter completely changed: Weekly Bi-monthly Monthly

Resting places are available up high and semi-hidden, located

Nail scratching posts/boards will be located

Water will be located. As fountains?

Food will be located. As interactive puzzles?

Appropriate Social Interactions

Key principles: 

  • Many cats prefer a high frequency, low intensity level of social contact with humans. 
  • Cats should be able to initiate, moderate and end their interactions with humans (and other pets). 
  • Cats need escape routes from young children.

How can your cat feel like s/he has the choice to interact with people and other pets? 

All people understand my cats should consent to any touch by showing behaviors like approaching with tail raised, relaxed/almond-shaped eyes, and slow blinking. My cats should not be picked up without these behaviors. 

I will try to provide multiple entrances/exits from resting spots, litter boxes & other key resources.

Appreciating the Sensory World of Cats

Key principles:

  • Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell. 
  • Cats feel threatened by strong smells and comforted by scents they deposit in their own environment.

What can you remove from your cat’s space that is harsh or strongly smelling?

  • Essential oils
  • Scented litter
  • Air freshener
  • Strong cleaner
  • Potpourri

What can you add to your cat’s spaces that increases comforting smells?

  • Familiar bedding
  • Pheromone products
  • Rub new items w/ cat’s scent

Why Aren’t My Cats Buddies?

  • Cats do not have the same need for companionship as humans and dogs. They evolved as solitary hunters and survivors. As such, your cat does not need a feline friend.
  • Some cats become friends, but a reasonable goal is for cats to be “amicable roommates”.
  • How to improve relationships between your cats: Make sure each cat has full access to essential resources; prevent bullying by having one more of each resource than you have cats in your home.
  • This is hurting your cats’ relationship: Feeding them together. Cats find having another cat around their food threatening. Feed your cats in separate spaces.
  • If you want to get another cat: Do it for you, not your cat. There’s a higher chance your existing cat will be more stressed by the new cat than they would be if they remained a solo cat.

Cats that are more likely to get along are: related, grew up as kittens together, are less than 2 years old, are close in age, lived amicably with other cats in the past.