PRIORITY TO THE CALMER ONE
Before all else, you must prepare the space. The priority is to allow the cat that isn’t enjoying the cohabitation to find refuge at height. Clear the tops of wardrobes, and other high surfaces. A place of safety at altitude in each room is ideal. The cat must be able to climb but, more importantly, get down. For this, there must be a surface at half distance between the ground and the refuge like a table or self for example. It must be around 30 cm2 and not slippery.
It is also important to keep control of time. This means that you should keep the two cats in different rooms and organise precise times when they meet.
Only one « meeting room » is needed. This will be a « testing zone ». The rest of the house has to be shared equally with an area for each cat to stay in. Beware, don’t change or swap their territories !
Finally, for the litter trays, one in each cat’s territory if it doesn’t go very well. If not, one tray for the two of them is more than enough. However, this litter tray has to be in an area that isn’t too enclosed allowing cats to leave quickly and not get cornered if the other one arrives. Otherwise, they will choose a different place to do their business.
WHEN THEY STILL WON’T GET ALONG
Two cats that don’t like each other is unbearable for both the owner and the cats. Fights, stress, soiling and then the house that has to be split in two, the doors that always have to be shut… A real struggle ! In this case, it is best to find a new home for one of the two cats. In fact, if you love your cat, you want it to be happy and forcing it to live with another cat isn’t doing that. It’s such a large source of stress that it can make a cat ill : they can contract illnesses like cancer more quickly, hypertension, cystitis, etc…
MOST LIKELY CAT COHABITATION COMBINATIONS TO SUCCEED ARE:
- Cats used to living with and seeing other cats
- Young cats (under 2 years old : attracted to games and their curiosity can be stronger than their fear.)
- Two cats of the same gender. No mixes of sterilised/non-sterilised
- Two kittens from the same litter, or two friends from the same shelter
- A mother and a young kitten (if you present the two for the first time with the kitten behind the mother)
MOST LIKELY CAT COHABITATION COMBINATIONS TO END POORLY:
- An old cat (over 10 years old) and a kitten (full of life).
- A sterile cat and a non-sterile cat
- Two male non-castrated cats
- An adult used to living alone and a younger cat
- A « dog-cat », a cat that was only brought up by humans and doesn’t know it’s a cat and a kitten or young cat
SIGNS OF A GOOD CAT COHABITATION
- The cats fight but don’t hurt each other, they only give paw punches
- They sleep together, in the same room or bed
- Both lick each other, often or not
- They sleep properly (without seeming to be watched)
SIGNS OF A BAD CAT COHABITATION
The first sign to look out for is the use of space : if one of the cats doesn’t use the space as much as before, and is moving in a smaller area, it’s a bad sign.
The other signs are the following :
- One of the cats is constantly being harassed
- One of the cats is forced to hide or to stay in the same place always
- The fights are loud (lots of screaming) but rare
In conclusion : Sometimes, it is best to accept that things won’t go as we’d like and it is best to give one of the cats away rather than force them to live together if they don’t like it.