My Cats Don't Hang Out Together

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger discusses the importance of vertical territory to cats' hierarchy.

By Marilyn Krieger | Posted: December 11, 2009, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My two cats have completely different personalities. They only stay in the same room together when they eat. If I am in the bedroom one will come in and the other will sit in the hall, if I am in the living room the cat who visits me in the bedroom sits in the hall and the other one comes in. I got two cats so they could be company for each other while I am at work. I love them both and try to have them in the same room together but it never lasts for more than a minute. They never play together or groom each other like I see other cats do. They are both around 5 years old; I got one and then the other two months later, so they have been together for a long time.

A: Your cats have successfully worked out a way of maintaining a civil relationship with each other through room-sharing and time-sharing. Essentially, they tolerate each other and keep the peace by taking turns when they are in certain areas of your house.

Like people, every cat is an individual with his or her own preferences. Some cats like to be around certain individuals more then others. And there are some cats who are loners, some prefer the company of humans over other felines.

Another possible reason your cats are refusing to spend time together is that they don’t have adequate means of demonstrating their hierarchy to each other. Vertical territory — cat furniture or other furniture with lots of shelves at different heights — is very important for cats to show their status to each other. One way cats demonstrate their hierarchy is by where they sit in relationship to each other. It isn’t a static arrangement. They take turns, depending on the room and the time of day and who else is also in the vicinity.

Most likely your cats will never become best buddies. Don’t force them to be together in the same room; doing so can create tensions, stress and possible fighting between the cats. Instead, make sure you have lots of tall vertical territory with shelves that are located at different heights in the rooms you and the cats frequent. The furniture needs to be configured in such a way that there are multiple ways up and down from the highest level, so that neither cat can be trapped at the top.

Your two cats might never move beyond the stage of tolerating each other. But with the addition of vertical territory, they may eventually be able to at least tolerate each other in the same room.

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Reader Comments

wanda    monmouth, ME

12/23/2009 2:50:49 AM

very interesting

S    Three Oaks, MI

12/13/2009 1:14:53 PM

Good advice. Imagine being forced to be in the same room with someone you don't get along with?
You wouldn't like it very much, either.

karen    cheektowaga, NY

12/13/2009 12:39:28 PM

I have four fuzzies, and they are always found huddled together. Usually on my bed!!!!

Miranda    Aurora, CO

12/12/2009 9:05:00 PM

right!

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