Monday, April 6, 2015

How to reinforce a cat's turf (and have a peaceful multi-cat home)

black cat blue heated cat bed
Cats may be known for their cuddly cuteness, but they're also extremely territorial predators. A cat in the wild has no compunction about chasing off and/or wounding a stranger cat. That's the best way for a cat to ensure that his/her food and safe spaces aren't stolen by another creature.

Managing a multi-cat household means understanding that cats can be kinda nasty, and looking for ways to help each cat feel as though his/her turf is respected. Sometimes, that's not so easy to do.

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Maggie and Troy, for example, seem to like spending time in the same spaces. They're both huge fans of window seats, and they both like to perch in high places. During Troy's household introduction (which started with site swapping), that's been a problem. The places he likes to go are the places Maggie considers her turf. Unless I step in, I could have a vendetta on my hands.

My solution involves absolutely-impossible-to-resist beds.

The little bed (the Thermo Kitty Fashion Splash Heated Cat Mat, Mocha) Maggie has chosen (you see her grabbing it possessively up top) is round, soft and heated. All of those things ring her little bells, and she'll give up a window seat to spend time in a spot like this. Her new bed is on top of the wicker couch, which is another favorite space, and that makes this bed nearly impossible for her to resist.

Troy's new bed is plush and soft, and it's stuffed with egg crate. (It's a lot like this one: FurHaven Pet Nap Ultra Plush Deluxe 35-Inch by 44-Inch Orthopedic Pet Bed, Jumbo, Gray.) That construction makes this bed a great resting space for his old bones, and since it's black, it tends to heat up when it's exposed to bright sunshine. By putting that bed near a window, I'm ensuring that he has a favorite bed he just won't be able to resist.
black cat on a black cat bed
Now, these guys are curious, and they do tend to check out the competition. That means Maggie has tried to settle in Troy's bed, and he's sniffed at her bed at least once. For now, I'm not allowing for swapping. Troy is new, and he needs to carve out a spot that's all his own. I don't want him to feel as though he has to fight to get it. And, his bed is new, so it's not as though he's stealing something from Maggie. If I keep her away from his bed, he can feel safe and secure. I just put her back in her own bed. And I do the same for him, so she won't feel miffed.

These guys are both old, so they really don't do a lot of bed swapping. Put them in a good enough spot, and they'll stay there all day. But by ensuring some kind of turf, I can help them have neutral interactions like this on common ground.
two cats red couch
He is below and she is above, and nobody is even thinking about fighting. They both feel secure, and they can both run back to the preferred bed if they'd like to do so. And that means they can interact with a little less worry.

Any other multi-cat people want to share their tips? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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