I’ve been working on this post for weeks. I hope it will be useful to readers for years to come!
A very common issue that comes up in my Animal Communication practice is scooping to the bottom of litter box issues. Many times, there is a medical issue involved – so I always recommend my friends consult a vet and have their cat’s pee tested for crystals or infection before consulting with me.
More often though, there are cat pee issues in a multi-cat household – a Cat Pee War! This is *so distressing* for the humans, it’s unhygienic, and Cat Pee Wars do not resolve on their own. If you ignore it, it will likely get worse!
So here’s what you need to know about Cat Pee Wars and how to keep the peace in a multi-cat household!
Why have multiple cats?
Many animals need a friend of their own species, to live with, to be happy and live more active, and to generally live a fulfilling pet life. Not all animals want to live with a friend full time, everyone is different, but generally, it’s a good idea when deciding to adopt a cat or kitten to consider if you can afford two cats. I love to watch my pets interact with each other, and I have seen how enriching it is for pet animals to have a friend.
There are many ways to build a multi-cat household, and it is *so important* you do so in a way which considers whether the animals actually *want* to live together, and avoids disrupting routines, distressing the animals, and above all AVOIDS the dreaded CAT PEE WAR!
I’ll begin with the easiest way.
Two Cat House: Adopt Littermates
Adopting littermates is the best way to ensure your cats will have a solid, loving bond. They’ll groom each other, wrestle together, hunt toys together, scratch together, teach each other tricks / mischief, and generally delight in each other’s company for their entire lives together.
The only downside to getting two littermates is that one will likely outlive the other, and it is heartbreaking when a littermate is left on her own. This is why I suggest you introduce a third companion. When you have three cats who like each other, when one passes away, the remaining two will have each other.
Two Cat House: Find your current single cat an Adult Cat or Kitten Friend
Before you bring home a friend for your single cat, be sure your cat is checked out by the vet and is perfectly healthy. A sick cat is a stressed cat, and the newcomer will react with stress to a cat in their new home who is ill. The stress of a new cat in the house can make a mildly ill cat extremely ill quickly – so be sure to get your cat checked out a month or so in advance of adding a new companion.
Next, I strongly suggest you book a pet session with me to talk to your current cat (and possibly the one you’re considering adopting) about what is going to happen, how it will happen, and give them time to express their reservations, worries, or to potentially opt out if they really do not want another cat in the house.
My Leo boy, my first cat and a beautiful brown tabby, began peeing outside of the litter box once to get my attention. He was lonely, he said, and he wanted a white female cat friend. I was so startled by this demand of his, I consulted another animal communicator friend of mine to get confirmation of Leo’s wants before I started searching pet finder for a companion cat – who turned out to be Sunshine, our gorgeous Sunny Girl who lit up our household for many years. Thanks to animal communication, Sunshine’s arrival to our house was anticipated by Leo and our big dog Mocha, and Sunny knew what to expect when she arrived. Sunshine did not end up requiring any period of isolation – her integration was instantaneous! She waltzed out of the kennel like she owned the house, and Leo fell in love with her that very moment. He spent the rest of his life trying to pat and touch her – but Sunshine had a strict NO TOUCH policy! She enforced this immediately by hissing at Leo whenever he attempted to touch her, and Leo, being a laid-back and loving fellow, simply respected her boundaries. They played together, played tricks on the dogs, and enjoyed each other’s company until Leo passed away nearly 8 years later.
When Sunshine was our only cat, and Mocha has passed away by this time as well, we decided to finally adopt two littermates we had been anticipating for several years! (Read their story here!) Integrating the two kittens was a completely different process, as we knew Sunshine had a strict no-touch policy. These two kittens, Mikey and Rupert, had been used to nursing from several different adult female cats, and would have immediately honed in upon Sunshine, and not understood her rules about personal space. We, the humans, had to teach the kittens boundaries before allowing them to have the run of the house and access to our now senior resident cat, Sunshine.
When we brought the kittens home, we placed them on the dining room table for Sunshine to check out. We lifted the towel off of the crate and allowed Sunshine to look into the crate. She hissed at the kittens and then hopped off the table. “You teach them,” she said to me, as she stalked off. She was *not* interested in being a surrogate Mom to our kittens! Which was fine. This is actually why we got two kittens, because we knew they would be spending work days and the first week or two of nights in their designated kitten room, because we could not leave them unsupervised with Sunshine until they had been trained up to her rules. If Sunshine had been feeling lonely or missing Leo, we may have gotten her a single kitten friend, or even an adult friend. However, she didn’t want a new cat friend and was prepared to tolerate kittens for our benefit, but was not interested in becoming their friend.
Whether you get an adult or kitten friend, the approaches to integrating them are similar.
Adult Cat or Kitten Friend?
The biggest factor determining whether you should choose an adult cat companion or a kitten friend for your resident cat – is the resident cat! What sort of cat is she? Is she inquisitive, and energetic? Does she like to be active and solicit attention from you?
Or does she prefer to be admired gently, maybe even from a distance?
If your resident cat *enjoys* playful handling, is alert and looking for interaction, a kitten friend would be ideal! If your resident cat is “the boss” and a bit more dominant in personality, you will want to be sure you don’t choose a timid kitten – personalities of kittens will factor in! Likewise, if your cat is friendly, gentle, and laid back, you don’t want to choose a kitten who is clearly dominating his brothers and sisters. Look for a kitten who is also calm and laid back.
Getting a kitten with an adult cat in the house means you’re giving the adult cat a project. Once the kitten is integrated, he will probably need to defer to your resident cat, and the adult cat will need to teach your kitten the rules of HER house!
When integrating a kitten, you will want to move the following integration process along more quickly than with an adult cat. The kitten is more adaptable, and is less of an inherent instinctual threat to your adult resident. Please replicate the adult introductions experience for your kitten (below), but recognize your kitten needs to accommodate the adult cat, and your kitten is much more capable of changing his own behaviour to accommodate your resident adult than another adult cat would be. This is why (unless you luck out and have a Sunshine experience) introductions of adult cats should take much longer than introducing a kitten.
You want to condition your kitten to get along with your resident cat, so you will not want to isolate him from the adult as long. Don’t force the kitten upon your adult resident, instead do everything you can to encourage your adult resident to come eat near the kitten room, get treats from you while you hold the kitten safely, play with a string or watch the kitten play with a string etc. Until your kitten has lived with you for at least a couple of weeks, I would caution you against leaving the adult and the kitten alone together. You want to have plenty of time to supervise them together, and make sure they have reached an understanding (and hopefully a friendship) before you leave them together unattended.
Your Time: A big determining factor between getting an adult cat companion or a kitten would be your time! A single kitten is a lot more work than a pair of kittens! You cannot leave a single kitten alone in the kitten room for many hours at a time! Nor can you evict your resident cat from your bedroom to keep the kitten in your room with you at night, excluding the resident adult. Incorporating a single kitten into a house with a single adult cat is more work for the human – and you may want to consider taking at least a week vacation so that you don’t have to leave the kitten alone in the kitten room very much in the first week he lives with you. A pair of kittens is often less work for the resident adult cat as well, because the kittens will play with each other, and place less stress upon the adult cat. A pair of kittens have each other for company, so if your adult cat needs more time to acclimatize to the new kittens, it’s okay if your kittens spend more than a couple of weeks in the kitten room. (Our kittens took almost three weeks to fully integrate.)
Sunshine was a senior cat when we brought home Rupert and Mikey as kittens. We wanted a pair of kittens for all the benefits explained in the “adopt littermates” section above, and we also needed to be able to leave them alone in the kitten room during our work days and while we were asleep. We did not want to leave a kitten alone for that long, (12 – 16 hours a day) so we knew that adopting a kitten for us meant adopting two (which was fine, because we wanted littermates anyway!) If adopting littermates might be right for you, please scroll down to the “Three Cat House” section.
At about two weeks of bringing the new kitten home, I suggest you open the bedroom door and place a baby gate across the space. A baby gate either cat or kitten could certainly climb if they wanted to, but it creates an extra barrier than simply leaving the door open. (If you have a dog, a baby gate is essential, you do not want the dog invading the kitten room.) If the kitten is feeling insecure, he will not climb that baby gate. (Our kittens did not climb the baby gate for three days, and our resident cat and dog stayed on the other side of the baby gate as well, but they used this time to get used to seeing each other.)
When the resident adult and the kitten interact, you will have to watch both of them for signs of overwhelm, too. Is the adult being too overbearing? Is the kitten pouncing on or chasing the adult in a way which scares the adult or tries their patience too much?
If you’re not sure how things are going in the early stages, again, I urge you to book a session sooner rather than later. There is SO MUCH we can do in the early stages to prevent things from going sideways! If either kitten or cat gets too unhappy, you could find yourself living in a Cat Pee War Zone!
If your resident cat is more reserved, and prefers to join you in quiet moments for gentle affection, you should look for an adult companion who is also going to be laid back and gentle. This is what we did when Leo requested a friend. He didn’t want a kitten friend, he wanted an adult female friend. (Gender can play a big role too, again, when in doubt, please book a session before bringing home a new cat – or soon afterwards!) It is essential you look for an adult companion who is already used to living with one or more other cats! If you bring an adult cat into your house who has never lived with another cat, and worse, was raised from kitten hood in isolation, you’re really rolling the dice in a way you don’t need to.
Finding an adult companion cat: This is what rescues are best at! Adult cats usually have formed opinions about themselves and the world. You want to be sure you’re adopting an adult cat who has a history of getting along with other cats. You would not want to take a cat who has lived in isolation most of her life, and bring her home to your cat who has ALSO lived in isolation his whole life, and you definitely do not want to surprise your cat suddenly! (Call your friendly animal communicator!) It is best to work with a good rescue explaining the personality of your current cat, and what sort of personality you need in a companion. I would avoid introducing an adult cat who is bossy or dominating of the other cats in a rescue. This cat would want to be bossy and dominating in your home too, and your resident cat could become very upset. You know what that means! This is a recipe for stressed cats and a potential Cat Pee War!
It is so much easier (and less expensive) to introduce adult cats together correctly, and enlist my help as an animal communicator to *prevent problems*. Most often, people don’t contact me until there is already a Cat Pee War underway! It is better by far to avoid problems than try to resolve a cat conflict one it has started!
This is a very cautious method I like to suggest. Remember it’s better to take extra time, than go too fast and have a setback.
Introducing your new adult cat to your current cat starts with you preparing your home. You will need to keep the two cats separated by a door for a significant period of time, usually two weeks or a month. The room your new cat resides in must have a window for natural daylight (no dark bathrooms please, or the newcomer will become stressed) and should not be your bedroom *(unless your current cat does not go into your bedroom). Bedrooms are cat throne rooms. The bed where the human sleeps is *highly prized territory*. If you evict your resident cat from the bedroom and move your new cat in there, even with the door closed between them, you’re asking for a Cat Pee War!
Whatever room you will use for your new cat, start closing the door and denying your resident cat access at least a week prior to the arrival of the newcomer.
A bathroom with a window is okay, but a spare room or office is ideal. It is very important that your resident cat does not have reason to feel excluded. It is alright if the newcomer feels a tad isolated at first – this will encourage her to join the group on the resident cat’s terms.
Next, put down towels on areas where the two cats like to lay in their respective territories. Maybe over a bed, a couch, an office chair, or in a cat tree. It is important that each cat spends a lot of time laying on this towel.
When you pick up your new cat, place one of the towels in your carrier, so that the new cat can smell the resident cat from the very beginning. If you have other pets, like a dog, it’s a good idea to give this towel a wipe over the dog, too. This way, the new cat will understand what and who their new home smells like, and the presence of these animals who have already introduced themselves via smell won’t be as much of a shock to the newcomer.
Cover the carrier when you enter the house, so that direct eye contact (and inadvertent challenges) cannot be made. Bring the new cat directly into her room and close the door. The room should have a new litterbox, a cat perch of some type (a bed on a shelf or furniture is fine.) It should also have a heavy scratching post – one the newcomer can really put all her weight against without it tipping over. Scratching will help her calm herself, feel at home, and help her establish this room as HER territory. Between the cat tree, the litter box, and the *fresh clean* towels on the spots where the newcomer will lay, you have all the elements to set up a cat territory diplomacy, rather than a war.
After a couple of days, exchange the towels and a few of the toys, so that each cat can begin to get used to the smell of the other cat (and other animals in the house.) This also helps them understand the other animals’ smell will be on the desirable things like toys, perches etc. If either cat is showing stress when they encounter these smelly objects, try sprinkling some cat nip on the towel / toy too. Be sure to include some cat treats when you introduce the new smells as well! Treats will make their cat brains content and happy, and they will begin to associate that state of mind with the smells of their new companion.
You will begin to notice each cat becoming curious about what is on the other side of the door. They may vocalize to each other, but what you’re waiting for is for them to play “patty cake” under the door. This way they can touch each other safely. The patty cake game should not be aggressive or stressed. You might notice some playful dashing around, patting under the door, dashing away – this is okay, but it is NOT yet time to let them out to “play” together! This play behaviour is a positive way for each cat to safely let out it’s stress about the other cat.
What you’re waiting for is for each cat to be laying calmly near or by the door, displaying more “calm” signs than “excited” signs.
Once you have reached that stage, supervised introductions can begin. You always want to leave the introduction on a high note. You can open the door a crack, and give both cats treats while the door is open. One may choose to look through the open door, or they may retreat from the open door. If either cat retreats from the open door, you have to stay at this cracked-open door with treats stage until both cats associate the opening of the door with treats and some running!
Try the door open treat game for five or ten minutes at a time, three times a day, and gradually increase the open door time.
If your resident cat wants to barge into the new cat’s room, don’t allow this. You, the human, have to ensure the security of the new cat, so you have to reinforce to your resident cat that this room is the NEWCOMER’s territory now. It is up to the newcomer to come outside of the room to join the rest of the family.
It is possible your resident cat may simply ignore or deny the existence of the newcomer. This is a potential warning sign. You will have to be careful as the newcomer starts to explore the territory outside of her room – if your resident cat runs or hides from the newcomer, you have a bold newcomer and timid resident cat – this is Cat Pee War potential! In this case, you will need to extend the amount of time the newcomer spends in their room. You may need to start feeding your resident cat on the opposite side of the closed door, to encourage her to approach the door and acknowledge the existence of the newcomer.
Both cats should be aware of each other and reasonably relaxed before the door is opened between them.
What you are looking for when the two cats meet in person is not too much signs of tension or anxiety. Some raised hackles or hissing is okay, but a swipe means you may have pushed things too quickly. Use feeding time to get the two cats to be near each other peacefully – consider feeding them on the opposite sides of a closed door. They will smell and hear each other eating – and be sure to feed some extremely nice food. Now may be a time to whip out the very sweet Fancy Feast – a type of wet food most cats love! It’s not a food you want to feed every day for years, but in the first weeks or months of this introduction, fancy feast can make the difference between whether the cats will eat near each other or not!
To up the value of the fancy feast, do not free feed either cat – or have only a small amount of dry food available to them to snack. Your twice-daily feeding of fancy feast should be at the same time every day, and it should be something they can both look forward to.
THREE cat house!
Adding two adult cats to a home with a singleton.
Unless your single cat is young (less than 3 years, and the younger the better) rather outgoing and playful, I do *not* recommend adding two adult cats into a singleton cat house, especially if this single cat has never lived with cats before. The two bonded adult cats coming in are a team, and they will take over your resident cat’s territory, and frankly there won’t be much she can do about it! If your resident cat is an adult, consider looking for another single, cat-social adult, or consider a pair of kittens. Adding two adult cats to a single cat house is a big stress on the original cat, and for the sake of your resident cat, I would suggest you consider other options first. Read on!
Adding two kittens to a home with a singleton.
It’s important that your resident cat is outgoing, inquisitive and playful, and is willing to interact with the two kittens – or at least is willing to relinquish some of her territory to the newcomers and have them romping around. The two kittens will definitely form a team, but if they are young (less than 6 months old) and the adult cat is either used to sharing a home with another cat or is just curious and outgoing, two kittens tend to do very well with an older brother or sister.
Adult cats, when two kittens are brought home, may not want to get involved in the kitten rearing at all – and their interaction with the kittens may be to hiss at them and teach the kittens to simply respect her and keep their distance. This is fine, as long as they have each other to play with, and do not start teaming up to bully your resident cat. Keep a close eye on things, always monitor interactions, and keep the kittens separate from the adult cat when you are not home at *least* until they were neutered. Even at three months old, hormones play a big role in behaviour and cat hierarchy. If your resident cat is fixed (as she should be, unless there is a very good reason) then the two intact kittens could have their hormones telling them to dominate this older, sterile cat. In some parts of the world, kittens are neutered very early, at 6 weeks of age, but in most cases kittens aren’t fixed until six months of age. Hormones can be more active in different kittens, so a four month old male might consider himself to be a grown up bossy tom cat, and act like it! Our Rupert was certainly feeling good about himself at four months old, and would have been dominant towards Sunshine if we had given him the opportunity. Mikey, his litter mate, barely registered his testosterone. Mikey was, and still is, a perpetual, cuddly, submissive kitten. So you can see, how your kittens will behave towards your resident cat depends a lot on their individual personality and biochemistry.
A single kitten will want to and will have to interact with your resident cat very early on, but if your resident cat is disinterested, you will likely be doing her a favour by getting two kittens instead of one.
When I brought our two boys home, our resident adult cat Sunshine, spent the first week telling me, re the kittens, “They’re YOUR JOB. I will talk to them when they are smart.” Meaning, when they have matured and learned her limits. Sunshine was not particularly enthusiastic about her two kitten housemates, but Sunshine was a very cat-social girl. We selected her from a rescue, with the help of another animal communicator and the rescue workers themselves, specifically because she was dog and cat friendly. She was living peacefully with multiple cats in the rescue home, and she adapted instantly to Leo and our dog Mocha when she came home. It wasn’t a surprise that she didn’t want to mother two boy kittens (she had already been a mother to kittens and was done with that job, thank you very much!) Sunshine, however, didn’t expect to have the territory all to herself. She had not shared the house with other cats since Leo had passed away a few years earlier, and she had settled into a routine of eating, hanging out under the roof overhang, and she was generally winding down in her senior years.
I didn’t expect her to want to interact with the kittens, and I never let the kittens out in the house without supervision, because I wanted to make sure Sunshine would not be harassed.
I set the kittens up in my office, with a giant cat tree, their litter box, their food. They stayed in the kitten room for almost two weeks. When I was home, I would spend time with them in the kitten room with the door open and a baby gate across the door to keep our little dog Happy out in the hallway.
Sunshine knew exactly who was in the kitten room, and she wasn’t interested in coming to meet them. The dog, however, was very interested, and although he was small, less than 10 lbs, he was scary to the kittens. It was the dog, more than Sunshine, who caused the kittens to choose to remain in the kitten room for two weeks.
After two weeks had passed, the kittens’ curiosity got the better of them. They started to climb the baby gate to explore the hall and the upstairs. I moved the baby gate to the top of the stairs, to keep Happy the dog at a respectful distance (he was intense and reactive, and would need to be leashed when I gave the kittens more space later on.) The kittens spent a few days exploring upstairs before they wanted to expand their world further.
At this point, I kept an eye on Sunshine. She simply avoided the kittens. The key part was that Sunshine did not emanate stress when she choose to relocate from living room to bedroom to office, depending upon where the kittens were. She would occasionally watch them for a few minutes, but she seemed to know that the kittens would want to play with her if she made eye contact with them. Her goal was to slip out before they noticed her. This was perfectly fine.
Eventually, while dispensing treats, I was able to convince Sunshine she should stick around while the kittens were in the room. I never pushed her, and I tried to always end the interactions on a positive note, before Sunny had a chance to become annoyed with them. Sunshine also did not display any stress, and did not use the kittens’ upstairs litter box herself, indicating she was happy for the kittens “territory” to remain upstairs, and for her territory to be the downstairs. As the senior cat, she expected the kittens to avoid her too, so she would sometimes hiss at them to move or make way, if she wanted to go upstairs into the bedroom for a nap.
The kittens’ territory was my office, and the rest of the house was really Sunshine. She didn’t go into their territory, and she was teaching them that they had to consider themselves guests in the rest of the house, and defer to her if she wanted the sunny spot on the living room floor, or the middle of the bed.
This is pretty typical of adding two kittens to a senior cat’s home. I would not have attempted this if Sunny were a senior cat and had always lived by herself, that wouldn’t have been fair. I also wouldn’t have attempted this with a single kitten – knowing that Sunshine would not want to interact with a single kitten, it would have been unfair to the kitten to keep it by itself in the kitten room while we were at work, or asleep. The kittens needed each other *because* there was a senior cat who had dibs on the bed at night. During these first few months, it was a part of our job to teach the kittens where they were, and were not, allowed to access. We had to back up Sunshine’s territory with where we allowed the kittens to access early on, and as the kittens matured, they would internalize this sense of ownership over the kitten room, and deference to Sunshine when anywhere else in the house.
We also didn’t get the kittens for Sunshine’s pleasure, they were for our own pleasure. My Sweetie and I had come through a few very tough years, having both lost parents, and we decided after we moved to our lovely duplex that we would get two kittens and welcome home our reincarnated boys. This was the first time I had every had a kitten, having always rescued adult animals in the past. We were both grieving our losses, too, and we knew that a pair of kittens would bring laughter and joy back into our lives.
So the kittens were for us, they were *not* Sunshine’s job. Sunny understood why we needed them, and she was fine with us bringing kittens home, as long as she didn’t have to do anything, and the kittens didn’t bother her too much. The cat scratch was on the wall, so to speak.
Sadly, our Sunny girl passed away before the kittens were a year old. She was an older girl, but I believe that in part, she knew she could leave because she wouldn’t be leaving us alone without cats.
Three Cat House – Two Resident Adults! Adding a cat or kitten.
I actually believe that three is the perfect number of cats. If they are all friends, three is ideal. I adopted this rationale from an animal communicator colleague of mine who said, “When there is two, and one dies, the remaining one can grieve intensely if they were friends. But when there is three, and one dies, the remaining two have each other, and are more likely to accept a third again.”
When our boys grow up, we will probably incorporate a third cat. Our two boys are extremely bonded to each other, as happens with littermates. It’s one of the great benefits of littermates, actually. If it were practical, I would have adopted two boys and one girl from the same litter – but as we had Sunshine at home, I didn’t want to foist three kittens on her all at once.
Ideally, I would have incorporated a third female already – when the boys were a year or so old. Now that the boys are almost THREE, they will not be likely to accept a similar aged cat as a littermate or playmate, as they might have when they were younger. A third cat, at this stage in the game, will be a friend, but will be more likely to maintain their own personal space, rather than sleep with the boys in a kitten pile.
The main point you need to hit when adding an adult cat or kitten to a home with two resident cats, is the addition needs to complement the current two, and not compete.
Again, this is why it’s best to enlist the help of your humble animal communicator.
In my case, for example, with Rupert being a very dominant and bossy boy, and Mikey being very submissive and sweet, our additional cat could not be a dominant cat that would challenge Rupert or bully Mikey. Neither could the additional cat be too submissive – because if she allowed herself to be bullied by Rupert, that could just become the new game, and the bullied newcomer might bully Mikey in turn, or simply start peeing in protest… everywhere. We don’t want that!
The best match for my current household, would be a self-possessed female, who is young enough to adapt to Rupert’s personality, confident enough to hiss at him if she needs to, and thinks enough of herself to demand respect and prevent him from bullying her. She would also need to not be an actual bully herself.
This is why I would consider getting an opposite sex friend for the boys – because gender dynamics play a role as much as hormones do.
For the first six months, the female kitten would be “intact” and that would make her instinctively superior to the two neutered male cats. All she would need to be is a fairly confident kitten – not timid – and between an outgoing personality and being an intact female for six months, she would probably be able to hold her own with the boys, and they, instinctively, would be gentler and more respectful of a female kitten, than towards a single unneutered male kitten, who would read to them as a potential invader or threat.
A female, to Rupert particularly, would be intriguing. Even though Rupert is neutered, the testosterone definitely made a mark. Rupert is interested in female cats and is less likely to be dominant towards a self-possessed female. A male kitten, whether he would be self-possessed and confident, or submissive like Mikey, would be a target of bullying for Rupert.
If Mikey, lovely, calm, submissive Mikey, were the only cat in the house, I would look for a single, gentle friend for him. A big calm male kitten might be a good match for him (but not a dominant kitten. If Rupert and Mikey were not littermates, they would not have done well together as housemates!) Likewise, a calm, affectionate female might make a good companion to Mikey alone, as long as she were not too bossy with him.
The dynamic in our house right now is that Mikey “belongs” to Rupert, so the new cat would need to be an island unto herself in a way, because she would never be in their “club”. This is another reason I will consider a self-possessed female as ideal for our house, because she would need to not be dependent on the boys’ acceptance for happiness. She would need to be content grooming herself while Rupert grooms Mikey and coughs up hairballs.
A submissive female might even bond with Mikey, and if she were big enough, and tolerant enough, she might put up with a certain amount of domination from Rupert with good humour. What we would want to avoid is a small, timid female, who would likely become a target for both boys and would likely become so stressed she would either pee out of stress, or out of fear of using the “boys” litter box.
Even if I were to keep a kitten in my office, and introduce her like I introduced the boys to Sunshine, I know Rupert would be in the kitten room the second I opened that door – and Rupert would be peeing in that kitten’s litter box the moment he could! This is would be fine as long as the kitten did not see him as a threat – so I would want to keep that kitten door closed for at least a couple of weeks until she was big enough, confident enough, and bonded to the humans to be able to trust that we will keep her safe! I would want to be holding the kitten when Rupert came into the room, I would want the kitten to approach him, and I would be warning Rupert to be gentle with my voice. I would want to avoid any situation where the kitten had to retreat from Rupert in fear. Their early interactions can set the tone for their whole relationship!
As the boys are adults now, I could also consider adding another adult cat to the mix. If that is what I wanted, I would be looking for a female cat who is already living in a rescue with multiple cats, and who has possibly weathered some change with grace. Temperament would be the highest priority. Kittens can grow up and adapt more readily to circumstances than adult cats, so I would be looking for an adult female who be content to have the office as her territory, and who would be able to handle Rupert’s attentions with good humour when she was with us in the shared space.
Pet doors and feeders
Now that we are getting into 3+ cat households, I wanted to mention pet doors and feeders. There are fabulous new products out there which can really help with managing multi-cat households. There are pet doors that can be programmed to open only for a certain cat’s microchip, or magnet on their collar, and the same goes with cat food dishes – which makes it possible to be sure the kittens eat kitten food and the adults stick with their prescription food or hairball food or whatever they need to eat to be healthy.
These new devices will need to be introduced with lots of treats and praise, helping your cats understand how they work, but once the cats understand these feeders and pet doors can take a lot of anxiety out of the situation for the pets and their people. When a cat knows the kittens can’t access her special office, or the bedroom, then she always has a place to go to unwind. When the humans know their hyperglycemic cat will not be eating the iodine-rich food in the other cats’ dishes, the human can relax as well!
FOUR CATS OR MORE!
We are getting into Cat Person Country! My favourite people have four or more cats. It is takes a real dedication and love of cats to be able to manage a multi-cat household of four or more. It requires multiple litter boxes, a substantial commitment to vet care, some serious investment in cat furniture such as trees and hideouts, and it may require some supervision or division of the house into territories depending on how the cat community organizes itself.
Feral cats tent to organize themselves in colonies depending on food resources. They will make friends and allies to gain comfort and company, and they may or may not rank themselves or each other depending on the abundance of resources and the personalities of all cats involved.
The most important thing I want to emphasize – just because you have had four or more cats living together in the past, this doesn’t mean you can just add more cats willy-nilly! If this has worked in the past – you’ve been lucky! *All members of the cat house* have to be considered when upgrading the population from three to four or more, just like you would when adding one or two to a house with a single resident cat.
If you have a multi-cat house and you would like to add one or two more, you have to understand and appreciate the fine balance which may already be at play in your home, and the cats you add need to complement the company.
I have to emphasize that *PERSONALITY* is the biggest factor at play here. In a multi-cat house, it could be just as hazardous to add a kitten or two, as an older cat!
A kitten in a multi-cat household would have to be submissive to the resident adults – and your adults would need to be welcoming of a kitten. If your kitten has a Rupert-like personality, she will likely grow up to be *even more* dominant than she may have done with only a litter mate or herself for company. A dominant personality kitten, whether male or female, will grow to express her full dominant potential when she is raised with or near a colony of cats. It’s just nature kicking in. And woe to the queen of the cat colony if this should happen. Male or female, there is always a “top cat” in multi-cat households, and if you have a dominant kitten addition, that young whippersnapper will try to usurp the current Queen’s job! What is a self-respecting Queen to do? Why pee on everything, of course!
A dominant up-and-comer kitten could even instigate a pee war all on her own! An older, wiser, matriarch may not openly challenge the newcomer, but simply hold her ground with the support of the other adult cats – in which case the kitten must *prove herself*! This situation can rocket a dominant-personality kitten to the height of her mean girl potential. I have heard of up and comer kittens *literally peeing on the queen bee cat while she slept*.
That is really the worst case scenario. With an up and comer kitten and a threatened queen bee cat, both will be peeing and the other cats will be stressed, and could start to pee outside the litter box to voice their own stress and displeasure.
Your worst case scenario is when a newcomer cat tries to take over.
Cat pee war gone worldwide. Cat pee apocalypse. You do not want a cat pee apocalypse. An animal communicator cannot talk your cats out of a cat pee apocalypse. In this case, you may need to take drastic action, like permanent segregation of the offending cat, and possibly rehoming her. This is why it’s *so important* to be careful and to introduce and incorporate additions to your cat household carefully. When a cat pee war goes nuclear, there is not going back.
There are all sorts of reasons cats pee outside of the litterbox. This post only handles the introduction of new cat friends into your house, in as positive a way as possible, so that you can avoid and avert a potential cat pee apocalypse. If your cat has started peeing outside of the litter box and you *have not* introduced a new cat in the past year, please 1) have your cat checked by the vet to rule out physical causes, and then 2) please book a session with me sooner rather than later. The sooner the issue is addressed, the easier it is to fix.
I could write a book on this subject, there is so much to say, but I think I have hit the main points I wanted to hit. I hope you find this helpful!