Hissy Fits by Jessica McColl

There is roughly an eight-month gap between our two cats. We introduced Mr. Bean slowly after a two-week transition. When we first let them loose together; they played like maniacs for four hours straight. We rejoiced in the thought of kitties cuddling each other blissfully on the couch of an evening when we returned home from work. Macy even extended her fastidious grooming session to include a tidy up of Bean’s face; this is nice, we thought.

But feline relationships are complicated.

They are not like dogs. They do not ‘think’ in packs, however they certainly have a sense of hierarchy and despite the hype, they are also social creatures. Gasp. Yes, cats do enjoy the company of other cats. But it is complicated, isn’t that why we love them?

One of the reasons people assume cats are antisocial is because they hunt alone. In the world of hunting mammals, cats are pretty small – their prey is smaller still. Therefore there is not advantage to hunting together, what are they going to do, share a lizard? Now let’s turn to our vagabond friends, the street cats. They will band together to form groups. Within that group there is a structure, some cats dominate, some seem content to never vie for the position of top cat. Although, ‘top cat’ may be the wrong title, as there are often several cats in a large colony who could be classed as top cat, their position in the hierarchy often shifts subtly.

So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that occasionally I see these seemingly fearless street cats creep out of my exclusively indoor, lap cats.

Yes. It is not all roses between my cats. Sometimes they will be cuddled up on the couch together, will play with toys together and will hide together when that dreaded, life sucking monster that is the vacuum cleaner, rears it’s ugly head.

Other times, not so much.

Sometimes it turns into a hissing wrestle attack. The triggers are many; recently there was an in-house gangland war over who would get to sit in the new armchair. Yesterday they both sat happily on it. Whilst many cats are territorial over the litter box, mine will only share one. We had four at one point; they would both only go to the same one, leaving three completely clean. It is a situation that is both simple and complex.

They are not unhappy. They are exhibiting a very normal feline behavior. I am pleased to announce that, as you can see, the couch is currently being treated as shared property.

I have put into place some strategies for building their relationship. I engage both of them at the same time for mutual play. I do this by purchasing two of the same toy (usually two matching pole toys) and with one toy in each hand, play with them at the same time. Did I mention I am ambidextrous? (Well mostly when I draw or paint, I favor my right hand out of habit for writing) This may or may not make it easier to twirl both poles at once. You will have to test that one out for yourself. I also aim to get them both involved when playing with a laser pointer.

If, however, you find that your cats are not getting along at all after a recent tiff, it may be worthwhile re-introducing them. You do this in a similar way as you would when introducing a new cat for the very first time; confine one and slowly let them re-meet each other. I personally haven’t had to do this, but I keep it in my back pocket in case I ever have to.

I have considered re-introducing Macy to my husband.  Not sure which one I would confine.

Now you tell me, how do you keep the peace in your multi cat household?