Nowadays more and more people have one or more furry friends. We asked our friend Mira, who is an experienced cat-parent to share her experience on how to live harmoniously in a multi-pet household.
When and how did the first cat appear in your household?
One warm autumn evening a young grey cat just popped in with a short visit through an opened door. I just settled down for longer and thought, now I could have a cat. The cat returned the next day and another and then she stayed with me and my daughter for six wonderful years.
How did it happen that you had two or three cats?
My garden was a kind of local cat community route as in summer the door to my small house was always open and I didn’t scare them off, some of them decided to stay. It was Mruchka, the gray cat who came as the first, who decided who lives where. Of course, Mruchka lived in the house, slept in mine or my daughter’s bed, the other cats could only come with a visit and for a long time had to sleep in the garden shed. Only after Mruchka died could, the cat from the garden Muchka, sleep in the house. Soon Ruda came in the same way, just appeared one day and decided to stay. Those two cats were more agreeable. Then Ruda had kittens and one of them joined our family.
What are the advantages of having a multicat household?
That will be a long list, but first and most important, less fights among humans for the cat’s attention. No lap remains vacant when people are chatting in the living room.
Do your cats have their own comfort zone?
Of course, and these are always places of their own choice. There are some, nice and comfortable „beds” prepared especially for the cats that were sniffed around and left abandoned. Though expensive and professional they are never used by my cats. I really don’t know why.
Could you share your tips on how to have a happy multicat household?
If you are interested in cats you read about them as a species and then observe and simply live with them. You must remember cats observe you too and when they see that your behaviour is reasonable and loving they adapt to you or they adopt you. Ruda slept with me and often when I was sitting with my laptop too long she was coming to me and miaowing: „Enough of that! Time for bed!”
You even had a dog one time. How did you introduce him and make all your pets happy?
Fortunately dogs are floor level animals, so from the very beginning it was quite clear that cats rule in this house. Somehow the dogs understood very quickly that if they want to stay in the house and make me happy they must be kind to the cats. I remember one situation, there was an old armchair next to my bed that all the animals liked very much. One day the dog was sleeping in it and my cat Ruda came. She scratched the armchair and the dog growling and cursing under his nose left it and went to sleep on a blanket in the corner. Ruda jumped up and curled up the warm place in the middle of the armchair.
We know that unfortunately your two cats died. What was the behaviour of the other cats, when one cat died?
The black cat, Muchka was very, very old, more than 18 years. All she wanted was to be left alone in her favourite warm place and sleep. The other cats respected that and didn’t bother her so she quietly passed away while sleeping.
Ruda died in a very dramatic way, she was killed by an Amstaff dog that came to the area. I took her to the vet but nothing could be done. For Ruda’s daughter her mother just disappeared. Fredzia was very stressed for a long time. She couldn’t accept the change, she became timid and stopped leaving the house.
Do you remember how you introduced a kitten to your multicat household? Any tips?
Kittens were born in my cat family so everything happened naturally. Ruda solved the problem radically, she hissed at the dog and Muchka away from the room and they didn’t come close until the kittens were big.
Do you have any experience in flea treatment?
As all my cats were going out to the garden all of them were given flea and parasite treatment twice a year. I just ask my, or rather their, vet to give them the proper medications.
What to do in a multicat household when one cat eats all the food?
No such option, each cat had food in their own bowl and they were eating when me or my daughter were present. Often we were having our own food at the same time so that was a kind of a family event.
How many litter boxes do you have and what are your recommendations if one cat has diarrhea?
My cats almost always have the possibility of going to the garden and usually they find some place in the garden to defecate. That’s why there is only one „emergency” litter tray in my bathroom and both cats were sharing it. Usually it is advised that each cat in the household should have its own litter tray placed in a secluded place. I never had any problems with diarrhea so I cannot say anything about that. Last winter Fredzia suffered from a urinary infection and she stopped using the litter tray. It was her way of saying „I am not well, I am in pain” I noticed she used a plastic bag as a litter tray so I left some in different places in the house and I was patiently cleaning after her. When she felt better she returned to using her litter box.
Do any cats in your household show any signs of aggression?
There were a few occasions when the play went too far, Ruda especially liked to intimidate younger Fredzia sometimes. Ruda was said „no” very decisively and if that didn’t help she was locked alone in another room for some time. She didn’t feel very disturbed by that.
How did you solve the problem of urine marking?
There were only two male cats who for some short time chose to live with us. They tried to mark their territory but I showed them very clearly that this is my territory. When I saw them marking I shouted „no” and immediately cleaned the spot and marked it with my deo. Cats are intelligent and they very quickly accepted that I am the alpha in that area.
If someone is considering whether or not to have two or three cats, what are your recommendations?
There are so many homeless cats in the shelters that need love and can give so much love. But please remember that all of them are living, feeling creatures and when you decide to take care of any it is like taking care of a baby. It is a responsibility for many, very happy, but many years. Cats are personalities and they show it, I saw my cats being angry with me, being tender, showing that they are offended or happy, even opposing me when I was shouting at my daughter. They are not just animals, they are partners in your life.
How many cats do you have now and what are your plans for future?
At the moment there is only one cat, Fredzia living upstairs. She is an old lady and doesn’t want to be bothered by any cats or dogs, so she will stay upstairs. Another much younger cat, Kicia lives downstairs. Those two do not have much contact. They stay in their „comfort zones” but I dream about having one more cat who would live with me downstairs. I would like to adopt an adult cat from a shelter. That will probably be a male as I have noticed that both Kicia and Fredzia do not like each other but they tolerate when a tom-cat from the neighbourhood crosses the garden.
Photo: Monparell Catscattery