Cats conflict

multi-cat HOUSEHOLD

Living in a multi-cat household requires cats to share their space and their resources with one another.  This can increase stress levels and lead to some unwanted behaviours if the environment is not managed appropriately. 

Multiple cats need multiple resources

Cats like to have their own space and plenty of privacy.

In multi-cat households, it can be challenging to provide the privacy and resources necessary for each cat to feel at ease.  If your cats' individual needs are not met, it may lead to stress and unwanted behaviours such as urine marking, vertical scratching or aggression.1

Resources such as food and water, litter boxes and rest areas are important in all feline households. In multi-cat homes, having the right quantity and access to resources can be the key to harmony and improved welfare.

Tips for promoting harmony in a multi-cat household


Use a Feliway Diffuser in the room most frequented by your cats. Several diffusers may be needed in large or multi-level homes, or when cats have different living areas.


Reduce competition between cats by providing multiple resources spread throughout the house and on each floor. Avoid locations with limited access in and out, and avoid noisy or high traffic areas.


Food: Cats are solitary hunters. Each cat should have a separate feeding area away from other cats.


Water: Water bowls should be positioned away from the feeding areas. In the wild, cats wouldn’t drink where they eat.


Litter boxes: Cats prefer their litter boxes placed away from food and other resources, in a quiet location where they feel safe. Provide one (1) litter box per cat, plus one (1) extra located in separate areas accessible to each cat. Some cats dislike covered litter boxes, so it’s a good idea to provide a variety of options.


Scratching posts: These are best placed near resting areas and entrances and exits. The posts should be rigid and tall enough to use at a full stretch.


Resting areas: Some cats like to be partially or fully hidden at ground level, many also enjoy high perches especially when feeling threatened. Ensure the area they like to rest in is soft and warm. Single cat-sized sleeping perches have been shown to help reduce individual cat stress in multi-cat households.


To minimize stress for cats, never punish or startle the involved cats after an aggressive encounter. Do not intervene as the risk for accidental aggression toward people is very high when a cat is aroused.


To find the best areas to place these resources, see tips for planning a cat friendly home.

1 Feliway helps ease tension in multi-cat households by mimicking the natural facial pheromone that happy cats use to mark their environment as safe and familiar. It helps reduce territorial stress and control unwanted marking behaviours. In cases where recognized aggression is displayed—fights, attacks, wounding or aggression toward humans—consulting your veterinarian or a feline behaviourist is strongly recommended.