Cats are well known for being territorial animals, but did you know that the average cat has a territory of 4 ACRES?!
Yes, you read that right — 1 cat’s territory = 4 Acres, over 100x the size of the average house.
Let’s be honest, that is a lot of space, especially if you have a multi-cat household and don’t particularly want to buy acres and acres of land just for your cats (but if you do, that’s okay too, we won’t judge you). So what can you do to ensure that your cats have enough space and don’t get incredibly sensitive over what they consider to be “theirs?”
First, you should follow the 1+1 rule, which states that you should have one litter box for each cat in the household, plus one extra.
This is getting to sound a little word problem-ish and if you are having grade school flashbacks, I apologize. There will not be a test, I promise!
Though the above rule generally applies to litter boxes, it is recommended that you extend this to ALL resources — food, water, and litter (and in some cases toys too! Though to be honest most of us go way overboard in that department.) and follow a few simple guidelines. Let’s take a look at each resource individually:
By asking folks to follow the 1+1 rule, it may look like we are asking you to feed your cat more, which is definitely not the case — this is where those simple guidelines come in.
Ensure each cat has a an individual feeding space and dish.
Though it may not seem like it, cats can be very picky about where they eat, especially in a multi-cat household. Their dish should be placed in a quiet, protected space where they won’t feel threatened. Of course, this set-up will depend on what type of feeding regimen you have. I have one cat for instance, who insists upon taking her dinner under the bed. This seems silly, but she and I both know it is a safe space where the other cat won’t bother her.
Make mealtime fun!
Cater to your cat’s normal prey instincts and inject a little wonder into mealtime. Hide food or use “treat” dispensers to deliver a portion of the meal in a way that will not only give your cat a little more exercise, but will increase the number of resources available.
We all know that water is a super important resource — for all life — so it is essential to ensure that cats have enough of it. Specifically, getting plenty of water is essential in preventing feline lower urinary tract disease.
Get Creative with 1+1
I have experienced what I have termed “water jealousy” in my household, where one cat just could not handle the other cat getting a drink. There was pushing and shoving — SO much drama! The addition of another water source saved my sanity and theirs! However, I took the opportunity to add another type of water source — a fountain — to give them a little variety. As with people, cats are individuals and have their own preferences. Some may prefer a low, shallow dish, where others prefer moving water like fountains or faucets.
The litter struggle is real in many a household! Cats can be sensitive to the type, feel, and smell of their litter, which can often cause much discourse. Though there are tips on tackling those issues, we are going to explore the litter box as a resource.
Placement is key!
So from what we’ve learned thus far, we need 1 litter box per cat, plus 1 extra. However, what many cat owners do not realize is that the placement of these boxes is key. A two cat household with three litter boxes right next to each other does not solve any issues. To a cat this is the same as having one giant litter box. The boxes should be placed throughout the home or room, ensuring that there is a good distance between each one.
Be aware of preferences
As we talked about with food, cats have individual preferences when it comes to litter. Some like a covered box, others don’t. Consider the size of your cat and measure this against the size of the box and the amount of litter you have. In my household we have one large cat, which has an issue getting into and turning around in specific boxes. We also have a smaller cat that can’t get into a larger box and prefers less litter. Good times … but taking this into account has decreased our drama.
Following these tips should lead to a more peaceful household and make for happier cats overall! Providing appropriate and abundant resources for the cats in your home is a small price to pay, and will return far more on your investment than real estate the size of a small farm!
For more information on the needs of indoor cats, please take a look at the Indoor Pet Initiative from The Ohio State University and our Board Member, Dr. Tony Buffington.
Cover Photo by US Fotografie