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Why Can’t My Cats Just Get Along?  Advice from a Cat Behaviorist

Why Can’t My Cats Just Get Along? Advice from a Cat Behaviorist


Does this scenario sound familiar? You get a cat and find yourself feeling guilty because she’s alone all day while you’re at work. You wonder if she’d be happier if you brought another cat into the household to keep her company. So you get another cat and weird things start happening. One cat will take on a dominant role, and the other will be more submissive. One will start hiding under the bed while the other will demand your attention. Do cats want each other’s company or are some just happier by themselves?



If you’re struggling with some of these kitty dilemmas, don’t worry, we have some great advice for you courtesy of cat behaviorist Haley Gonzales, from My Cat Friend. Here’s a brief summary. You can read the full article on her blog.



Are my cats playing or fighting?

Your cats’ body language can tell you a lot about what they’re up to. Signs of play include each cat taking a turn chasing the other, minimal vocalization, they seem relaxed and take breaks, and no evidence of injuries. Signs of fighting are one cat is the “bully” and the other is not, vocalization like hissing and growing, and evidence of scratches, bite wounds, or tufts of fur on the floor.



How do I help my cats get along?

Cat behaviorists will tell you that they see a few key problems in households where the cats don’t get along. Here are the most important issues to keep in mind:

  • Make sure each cat has his or her own space. This means separate food and water bowls, litter boxes, and beds. Creating additional vertical space with shelves and kitty condos can also help. Make sure any space you create has more than one entry/exit point so the submissive cat doesn’t feel trapped by a lurking dominant cat.
  • Take time to interact with all your cats. Interactive play sessions with you can go a long way to solving cat behavior problems. Find a toy your cats like to stalk, hunt, and chase. This will help them focus on play rather than messing with each other.
  • Reward good behavior. When you spot your cats interacting calmly and peacefully with each other, reward this good behavior with treats. They will start to link calm behavior with a positive reward.
  • Start over with a reintroduction. If things are really bad, you may need to reintroduce your cats. This could mean separating them in different rooms and start reintroducing them from scratch. You can contact a cat behaviorist for help with this process. Also, be sure to check with your vet if one of your cats has suddenly become very aggressive. This could be a sign of a medical problem.



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linda maines - August 5, 2017

Help!!!! I have 3 cats, 2 are older about 8 & 9 yrs old & who is 4 yrs old. My 2 older cats were stolen for 2 yrs when I got them back we had had a 1 yr old male cat ( all my cats are neutered ) My 8 yr old is a female Siamese she was in very bad shape when i got her back & almost died, the 1 yr old cat constantly attacked & antagonized her! Eventually things calmed down, they didn’t really like each other but tolerated one another, sometimes they would even sleep next to each other. This behavior continued for the past 3 yrs. 5 months ago we moved into a new bigger apartment,everything was fine first 3 months now all of a sudden my female wont leave my bed , she hisses & growls every time she sees him & its gotten so bad that now she is going to the bathroom on my bed & my pillows both poop & pee I don’t know what could be wrong or what to do???

Rachel Mitchell - October 31, 2016

I have a petite kitten, who’s maybe 5 pounds soaking wet, named Bailey. He’s probably around 9 or 10 months old, high energy, he loves to play, and loves to cuddle. But I was thinking that, since he was the only cat in a 3 dog house perhaps he’d like another cat friend to play with, because we work long hours and the dogs stay outside more than inside. So in comes 2 year old, 15 pound Jacks. I got Jacks from a friend who said he needed to be rehomed because he had become depressed. So I thought my bouncy Bailey would be perfect to help lift his spirits. So I bring him home, set everything up separately. They have different bowls, separate litter boxes (in the same room but on opposite sides), different beds, and they share food. I tried the introducing their scents to each other before having them meet face to face for a while then when they met, Bailey ran up to touch noses and Jacks hissed, which made Bailey hiss, then Jacks growled, then turned and walked off with Bailey being his little shadow. Jacks has been hiding in the litter box room for a couple days now and at first wouldn’t let Bailey in to use his box. But they’ve moved from not letting each other in the same room at all to sitting on opposite sides of the same room somewhat peacefully, to using the same litter box, and now sharing their food bowls too. Bailey doesn’t follow Jacks around as much and Jacks doesn’t hiss as much, but he’ll still growl or whine. And today I noticed when Bailey walked up to Jacks, Jacks growled a little, whined, then laid down at Baileys feet, to which Bailey laid down and they were quiet and still for a little bit like that. Does this mean they’re maybe starting to work it out or do I need to intervene and reintroduce them?

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