The Cat’s mind.

Posted by Theresa Blood on

In, out and shake it all about.

One cat habit that can test the patience of even the most doting owner is when they ask to be let out of the room and then ask to come back in again just a few moments later. It can seem as if the cat is simply being contrary, but it’s just that cats and humans recognize different boundaries. For a human, the living room is the living room and the kitchen is a different space altogether. The garden, of course, belongs to another realm, known as ‘outside’. Cats see things differently. The whole house and the area around it are one continuous territory and thy like to be able to patrol it unimpeded by unnecessary barriers such as doors. Your cat is not being indecisive about whether to sit in the living room or stay in the kitchen; they are just demanding their rightful access-all-areas privileges.

Turf wars

As naturally solitary animals, cats are instinctively disinclined to share, particularly when it comes to their precious personal space. Modern cats, however, often live in urban areas with a high feline population and have to learn to rub along with other cats. Once again, though, their evolutionary heritage holds them back in this regard. Unlike more sociable animals, cats have not evolved particularly effective strategies for conflict resolution. At the first sign of trouble, their preferred options are to flee or to hide. Failing that, a full-on fight may be necessary. It has to be said, cats haven’t really got the hang of backing down gracefully.Most pet cats who are allowed outdoors try hard to preserve their own territory. They also usually have a home range which goes beyond their personal patch and will probably overlap with the range of other cats. In a bid to keep the peace, neighborhood cats often develop a kind of shift system; one cat may sit at the window keeping watch, while the cat across the road has their turn to patrol the block. If a bolder cat refuses to play by the rules, however, the system can break down, leading to all sorts of friction. Cats may launch incursions into enemy territory, or even waltz into another cat’s home via the cat flap and steal any available cat food.

In the worst-case scenario, these multiple feline comings and goings can cause significant anxiety and stress. This, in turn, can lead to problem behavior, such as spraying in the house, food anxiety and destructiveness. Cats have a strong roaming instinct and there’s not much owners can do to smooth relations between cats while they’re outside, but creating as safe a space as possible within the home can go a long way to ensuring our cats have a place to call their own.

Share and share alike.

Many people share their homes with two or more cats perfectly harmoniously. Some cats form strong friendships and are content in each other’s company. They may curl up together and happily eat out of the same bowls. Many cats, however, really struggle with communal living. Cats, it turns out, don’t like cats as much as cat lovers do and in many cases would rather have the place to themselves. Despite being lone rangers by inclination, cats can form social groups (this behavior is often observed in feral populations), but rival groups can also form in multi-cat homes and the balance of power between cliques or individuals may shift over time.

Just because the cats aren’t hissing at each other and fighting all the time, doesn’t mean they are the best of friends. Cats keep their feelings to themselves. Some cats will take it in turns to occupy certain spaces, but other cats can be bullies and will block access to key spaces such as stairways and feeding areas. Providing lots of safe areas for all the cats can go a long way to easing tensions, but, in the end, if one cat really can’t make a go of it in the group, they may vote with their paws and move out.

Multi-cat harmony.

Some cats thrive on being an only companion, whereas others seem happier with a buddy. Achieving a friendly group can be tricky, so check in to see if your cats are really #HappyTogether.

  • FELINE THE LOVE – Multi cat harmony isn’t just the absence of physical violence. Look for friendly greetings with upright tails, nose touches, and face or body rubs. Playing, cuddling up together, or washing each other all suggest positive vibes too.
  • TURF WARS – Vocal or physical threats and armed attacks are obvious signs of conflict, but it’s also not great if you never see any positive interactions. Look out for silent threats, such as direct stares or strategic blocking of another cat’s free movement or access to resources.
  • PLENTY TO GO AROUND – Life’s a competition, and limited space or resources make the stakes higher. Your cats’ habitat has to work harder with each extra cat, so offer individual and separated resources for each, plus one extra for good measure.
  • PAY FOR GOOD ADVICE – Leaving cats to sort things out for themselves is a recipe for disaster. Ask your vet to check for pain or illness, to offer advice, and to recommend a good cat behaviorist. Little things can make a big effort so it’s worth the effort.
  • FELINE THE STRESS – Sometimes signs of trouble in the fold are less obvious, such as “scaredy cat” behavior, avoiding being in the same room, illness, or scratching, spraying or litter-box issues.


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