Sometimes there is trouble when we house a group of cats together in our home. How do we reduce the number of inter-cat squabbles?

Cats are socially flexible

  • they do fine on their own
  • they can live with other cats IF there are enough resources.

This is the sticking pointcats are territorial. Territory is all about resources – food, water, litter boxes, resting places.  Cat fights are frequently about territory and resources!

Cats of the same social group can often (but not always!) use the same resources at the same time. If cats do not belong to the same group, then they will often time-share, taking turns to use that heated bed every cat likes.

But sometimes even cats that are “BFF”’s have a spat. One answer is to “space” them – make sure there are enough resources spread throughout the house or apartment.

Space Cats Vertically > more space for everyone > Less fighting>less stress


Many cats like to perch up high. They have a great vantage point and can see who’s coming. Your apartment or house may have a small footprint but have you thought about the unused “cat space” up toward the ceiling?

cat tree access to high beam
A tall cat tree gives this cat access to a high resting place.

Vertical places can be valued resting places or alternate feeding stations.


We’ve all seen the videos and posts of those amazing cat houses but your vertical cat world does not need to be so elaborate or require as much work. It can fit in seamlessly to your decor.

cat trees


 

Cat trees, true to their name, have  small footprints and utilize vertical space. Some  have “hide boxes” for an undisturbed nap. A cat tree also can give a cat access to a high place or offer an alternate path to another part of the home.  Placing a tall cat tree next to a stair case might allow a cat to climb up and through the railing,  avoiding another cat on the stairs.

book shelves


Whether actually used for books or storage, the tops of book shelves can be a cat highway. “Step” bookcases can provide tasteful storage for you but give your cats a ladder to a valued resting place – perhaps the top bunk of a bunkbed.

access to stair landing
A “step ” bookcase gives a cat a different route to access  a stairway landing.

the top shelves of closets


  • Often unused space – after all the shelves are hard to get to. 
  • Good place for a secluded nap.
  •  A step ladder may get kitty up there. Baskets that  hang on the underside of the steps can give you storage.
  • Stack storage bins in a step configuration so your cat can climb to that top shelf 
  • An inexpensive single pole cat tree may provide access.

“Thinking  vertically” allows you to provide your cats with additional resting places and feeding stations. There will be less conflict if each cat can find his own space.

A stairway landing provides a feeding station, heated bed, and cat cube.

Release your inner cat and space cats vertically – spread out resting places and feeding stations!


Want to keep up with the world of cats?

 

Subscribe to The Feline Purrspective

Daily Food Portion Cat
Gus looks at his daily food allotment. Treats count!

Cats are notorious for being picky about their food. Googling “finicky cat meme” brings up pages of cats turning down food after the owner has offered 3-4 different types. Morris the Cat was the focus of the 9Lives cat food advertising for years – he would only eat 9Lives. The pet food industry has capitalized on this image of a picky eater with many selections of food – textures, tastes, flavors.

Cats in the wild have far ranging tastes and will eat anything from bugs to bunny rabbits. So, what is this “finicky cat meme”?

In a previous post, we visited some facts about cats and how they are designed to eat – small stomachs digest mainly meat and cannot hold a lot at once. Hence the cat’s lifestyle – most of his waking hours are spent prowling and looking for prey.

You say, “OK, I get it – I need to feed 4+ meals a day and puzzle feeders can help.”

Is there more to the “finicky cat meme”? Look at the “Feline Facts” below.


 

Mom knows best…


Kittens learn food preferences from their mothers.

Cats have good taste…


Cats can “taste” amino acids and will head to food that will satisfy their needs (in general)

What does my cat taste?

Fresh is best…


Bitter receptors on your cat’s tongue and in her oral cavity alert her to the bitterness resulting from decaying meat. A solitary hunter cannot risk a bad meal – she will not be able to hunt if sick and will starve.

The Need to Feed…


Your cat requires protein every day.  Protein cannot be stored like fat, if your cat does not eat, his body will start to get protein from his muscles. Cats cannot fast more than 2-3 days.

 

The Pleasure of Dining Alone…


Although cats can live in groups, they are not social eaters and prefer to take their prey to a secluded place where they can eat in peace.

The Dining Experience…What’s on the Menu

 

 

How to feed the “finicky cat”…


  1. Offer a SELECTION of high protein foods – see what your feline gourmand prefers. (try 3 foods at a time -you can use one of those divided plates).
  2. CHOOSE FOODS WITH STRONG AROMA (e.g. fish), again playing on the cat’s well-developed sense of smell.
  3. OFFER WHAT YOUR CAT WILL EAT IN ONE SITTING. Once protein starts to deteriorate, the food may become bitter and she may not eat it.
  4. OFFER BOTH CANNED AND DRY FOODS – textures and size of food can be important; if your cat ate dry food as a kitten she may prefer dry food.
  5. Because taste receptors work best at 86 degrees F (30 degrees Celsius), refrigerator cold food may not be appealing. A little HEATING (careful with that microwave – a few seconds is often all you need) will release the aroma of the food and make it more appealing

The Dining Experience…Where to Feed Your Cat


 

Cats prefer to dine alone. Choose a place out of the way where your cat can view things while she eats – perhaps a corner near the kitchen. If you can, keep cats out of sight of each other when feeding.

The “Kitty Diner” – feeding and carrier training all at once!


This is a solution I arrived at having 4 cats and a small townhouse. The cats eat their canned food meals in their carriers. Because they are in their boxes eating, they are out of sight of each other and I can feed them in a relatively small area. The bonus is that they have a better attitude toward their cat carriers when we need to travel.

Cat eating in carrier

Unsightly carrier? Try a carrier cover. Pick something that coordinates with your decor. If you use fleece or felt, you don’t have to hem anything. You just cut a square and cut a slot for the handle, if you like. This also helps with vet visits since the cover makes the carrier dark like a wildcat’s den and your cat feels more secure.

Cat-Carrier-Cover

When to call in the veterinary team…
If your cat is losing weight
If you cat is vomiting frequently
If your cat has frequent diarrhea or you feel she may be constipated
If your cat has not eaten for 24-48 hours – So is she truly not eating? Is she producing poop?
If she is pooping, she is eating something – maybe not enough. Consult your vet if there is no poop in the litter box for several days

The Cat Friendly Home: Resources – Food and Water


Our cats’ closest relative is the African Wildcat. What is the wildcat’s day like?

The wildcat’s day has already started by the time the sun starts to come up.
the wildcat’s excellent night vision allows him to hunt at night although the rodents that make up most of his diet are mainly active at dawn and dusk.

Small Frequent Meals


The wildcat must remain on the prowl at dawn and dusk since he needs to eat about 8-10 mice daily or starve.

 

Variety is the Spice of Life


If our wildcat is lucky, he may catch the occasional rabbit or antelope fawn. Insects, lizards, and snakes are also on the menu.

 

The Solitary Hunter Dines Alone


Once our wildcat catches a morsel, he will take it somewhere he can eat without becoming someone else’s meal – some place quiet, secluded and protected.

 

As the sun becomes higher in the sky, our wildcat will find a cool, secluded place to rest during the day before resuming the hunt at dusk.

At the Waterhole…


 

Not Much Need to Drink…


A wildcat gets most of her water from the prey she eats; her kidneys are very efficient.

Wide, Flat Watering Places..


If she does stop at a waterhole, she will choose a place where she can use the water as a mirror to see if anything is coming up behind her.

 

No Drinking While Eating…


She does not drink while eating nor does she bring food to the waterhole. She avoids contaminating the water source with the guts of her prey.

 

Our “Wildcats” at Home…


Like his wildcat relative, your cat gets most of his nutrition from meat. He is designed to eat 8-10 small meals a day and be on the prowl most of his waking hours, looking for food. He is hardwired to hunt, regardless of how well fed he is. Cats have been known to stop eating to pursue prey.

Feeding behavior…

It is normal for your cat to eat a few mouthfuls, go away and return later to eat more. Of course, this may be a problem if another cat eats all the food. One way to dispense small meals is to use several puzzle feeders located at different locations in your house. Your cat “prowls” around looking for feeders

Gus and Zelda eating from the Catit Food Tree

and collecting snacks along the way (See Your Cat’s Diet)

It is hard to dispense with “meal time” feeding, especially with canned food. If you have more than one cat, separating each cat and his food dish can help with aggression and gorging at feeding times.  Ideally, each cat should be out of sight of the other cats.

 

Gus is much more relaxed when eating away from the other cats.

Although cats that belong to the same social group may seem comfortable eating next to each other, watch for indicators of distress: “scarf and barf”, aggression, and standing while eating.

What to do with Water…

  • Wide, flat dishes mimic the puddles and water sources where cats can monitor for things behind them.

    A pie plate has been repurposed as a cat water dish. Water is greenish due to a dental additive.
  • Wide water dishes don’t interfere with the whiskers.
  • Water bowls in more than one place in the house gives kitty more opportunity to drink. This is especially important when feeding dry cat food and to avoid competition in multi-cat households.

Things to consider…

  • Canned food can provide a lot of your cat’s water needs
  • Water fountains for cats are popular – there are many styles. However, there are cats that prefer drinking from a dish or a dripping faucet
  • Cats have receptors on their tongues that let them know when they are drinking water – they may prefer filtered water (See What does my cat taste?)