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Norwich Bulletin - 10/1/2006

Cat Harmony

One cat, two cat, red cat, blue cat. Cats living with other cats, creates a whole household of hierarchies, games, arguments, mischief and learning how to interact with each other. It means that there is always a cat ready to sit on your lap, but it also means you have challenges to meet in order to keep harmony within your four walls. Here are some helpful hints for those of you who (like me) enjoy having multiple cat personalities in your home.

Think carefully before taking on a whole array of cats. Besides the obvious expenses of veterinary costs, food and litter, you are also opting for a whole lot of extra work and many broken knickknacks. The first thing you need to absolutely accept is that nothing of yours is sacred to the cats. If it is breakable and has sentimental value to your family, make sure you purchase a really nice class cabinet to keep it in.

You also have to accept the cat hair – on everything. The sign that says “In our house cat hair is a condiment” is not just a joke. You will need to do a whole lot of extra sweeping or vacuuming, as well as cleaning of multiple litter boxes.

And don’t forget the stress of watching (and not being able to help) the cats work out their dominance issues. You might even have bouts of spraying or fighting for awhile, until things work themselves out. Many well intentioned owners do not consider all of these factors before taking on an entire family of cats and end up bringing some of the more assertive purrsonalities to the shelters.

You also need time to give all of your cats the attention they require. You need to be willing to play with them and groom them, if necessary. And you have to recognize if one of your cats is in the small percentage of cats that do not want to live with cat friends.

Sometimes there will be a cat who will be too dominant or too frightened to become part of the cat family. In that case you have to be strong enough to give that cat up – and not to a shelter – the cat deserves the same responsibilities that you take for the other cats. You will need to find kitty an only cat home and let him go.

Bringing a new cat into the household is a slow process and you need to do the introduction properly. The new cat needs to get to know you first and should have their own room when they first come home. Let your cats sniff each other through the door and play pawsies for awhile.

Rub a cloth on the new cat – then rub the cloth on your other cats and back on the new cat so they can all exchange each others scents. Give it at least a week before you open that door and chances are you may have some hissing, but no real fighting.

You are going to go through a lot of supplies, depending on how many cats you have so learn to buy in bulk. There are some stores that offer a free bag of cat food for every ten you buy, and always hit the cat food sales. Each cat needs their own litterbox plus one, so if you have six cats make sure you have seven litterboxes and keep them clean.

You should have multiple water dishes around the house and multiple food dishes. Don’t expect everyone to share because cats are like people – some don’t play well with others. So you also need to learn when tension is happening in your home so you can difuse it. This will happen as you get to know your cats different personalities and you will sense when one needs time out.

But most of all you can really enjoy them once you get past the mischief and off and on shenanigans of the cats interactions. Most of the time it just requires a little bit of patience and there are so many rewards to having more than one feline in your home. More love, more laughter and each one will be so different and so special.

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