Although cats are sociable they are also very independent and find sharing resources (food, water bowls, litter trays, resting places) with other non- related cats a stressful event. Chronic low grade stress often leads to medical issues such as overgrooming and feline lower urinary tract disease.
In multiple cat households it is extremely important to have several feeding and toileting stations throughout the home so each cat has the opportunity to eat, drink and toilet without any visual contact with other cats and without having to walk past another cat (i.e. “run the gauntlet” ) to gain access. Most cats will tolerate being in the same room at the same time for feeding but with litter trays and water bowls there should be at least one per cat and one spare and each should be in its own separate area.
When choosing water bowls choose flat shallow ones that they can see over the rim as they lap and avoid plastic bowls- i.e. choose metal, glass or ceramic. Place water bowls some distance from food bowls. Cats often prefer non-chlorinated water (its why they like hot water after a shower) so you can use cooled water from the jug , or change the bowls on different days so there is always access to “old” water. Many cats like running water hence a pet water fountain is often good to encourage drinking.
Litter trays – some cats prefer the hooded variety, others find these stressful due to fear of being ambushed and prefer the open variety -all cats prefer a toilet in a quiet private area. Cats also have very strong preferences for the type of litter they use – ideally they should be offered a variety (clumping, non- clumping etc ) until their preference is known and they should be cleaned religiously every day- cats do not like a dirty “public” toilet.
Cats like to be able to get up high so provision of elevated resting places is important as is providing places they can hide or retreat to (eg as an open cardboard box on its side or a cupboard /wardrobe left open).
For more information on cat behaviour please ask one of our staff.