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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