Thursday, 16 July 2009

Managing More Than One Cat

As well as the vast range of vocalisation methods that we so frequently hear, the cat makes great use of their superior olfactory systems to communicate through scent deposition.

We can use these systems to our advantage within the home. Here is just a on...


From the tree-dwelling Cimolestes 65 million years ago, the domestic cat has evolved to use his claws as an adaptable tool for climbing, hunting, killing, eating, defence as well as communication.

Fragments of claw and claw sheath are often found embedded within the vertical surfaces scratched upon, causing experts to initially think that the purpose of scratching is to maintain healthy claws. However if this was true, we would be regularly witnessing the cat scratch with its hind feet too.

Instead these highly social animals are using their claws to communicate, the chemical messengers deposited from the sebaceous glands of the front paws into the fence post for example. The passing cat learns the age, gender and health of that depositing cat.


Spraying behaviour is an overt display, with his tail quivering the cat will back up to a vertical surface, emitting a stream of urine. Developed over millions of years, the cat has learnt that when patrolling the periphery of his territory, spraying in this way enables communication to any passing cats, mapping his territory and providing vital information about him self. As well as being extremely useful for avoiding confrontation, this behaviour helps with the mating process and regulates hunting behaviour within the area.


Depositing small pools of urine, marking is an abnormal behaviour, not present within the cats’ normal repertoire of behaviours and is often triggered by changes in environment or restricted behavioural patterns, leading to stress.

How Will this Help?

With such complexities, many owners come up against problems with the management of multi-cat households or introducing new pets to your home.

Now that you can see how your cat communicates with others, you can use this to your advantage!

When introducing any new member to the existing colony a step-by-step approach should be taken every time, gradually introducing the scent of one cat to the other and vice versa. This is what would happen in the wild and so this is what their instincts tell them to do.

TOP TIP – Before introducing the cats face-to-face visually, introduce an old rag that smells of the other cat to each others area and make sure that they are happy at this level initially.

If two cats have already spent time living together but are aggressive, marking or generally unhappy in each others company, re-introducing them appropriately, using the cats own methods of communication, will go a long way.

For more detailed information and a step-by-step plan to guide you to success, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am always happy to help.


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