The Behavior Department: Helping Family Cats Be Friends
There are ways to promote peace when felines are feudin’
Surveys show that cats now outnumber dogs as the most popular species of companion animal. This is not because cat owners outnumber dog owners, but because cat owners usually have more cats than dog owners have dogs. From this we can conclude that many, if not most cats, live in multicat households.
But conflicts among cats in the family are a common behavior problem, and sometimes result in significant quality-of-life concerns for the cats—and may even lead to relinquishment by owners frustrated by all the caterwauling. Veterinarians tell us that constant social stress can exacerbate or even cause certain diseases that are stress-sensitive. In fact, a recent article in a veterinary journal (“A case of recurrent feline idiopathic cystitis,” Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Vol. 3, No. 1) described a case of feline lower urinary tract disease that was treated, in part, by decreasing the conflicts among the family cats.