Posts Tagged ‘The Daily Cat’

Harmony In A House of Cats

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

harmony-catsApparently, cats are like potato chips. Stopping at just one isn’t easy. On average, cat owners have 2.4 cats, according to the American Pet Product Manufacturer’s Association.

“Living with other cats is stimulating and overall a very good thing,” says veterinary behaviorist Sharon Crowell-Davis, DVM, professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Athens.

“Preconceived ideas about cats being solitary are simply not true. Cats are social and enjoy the company of their own kind.

We’ve shown in our research of feral and stray outdoor cats that they often form complex social groups. They groom one another, pay attention to one another and play together; they wouldn’t do that if they were solitary.”

Dr. Crowell-Davis says people all too often have a single cat, and eventually decide to get a second cat maybe when that single cat is five or six years old. And all that time that cat hasn’t been exposed to other cats.

“A cat that isn’t accustomed to its own kind becomes socially incompetent as an adult,” she says. “But then, if a child grows up without going to school and being deprived socially, wouldn’t the same thing happen? Social behavior is greatly learned.”

Dr. Crowell-Davis is among those who encourage shelters to adopt littermates in pairs or even three at a time, depending on the existing pets in the family. She says, “Ideally, adopt a Queen (mother cat) with two of her offspring. “Our research indicates those kittens will grow up to be confident and stable, assuming the mother is reasonably confident and stable.”

The trick to harmony in multi-cat homes is a slow and gradual introduction of any new cats. Dr. Crowell-Davis says, “You don’t just assume any two people who have never met before will get along. Why make those assumptions with cats?”

When they do meet, use really great tasting food as a sort of payoff. “Give the cats a reason to like one another,” says Amy Shojai, author of PETiQuette: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Pet Household (M. Evans and Company). (more…)

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