Jackson Galaxy, the host of ‘My Cat From Hell’ is onto something when trying to help a family with two fighting cats:
‘When they learned Galaxy was filming season three of “My Cat From Hell” in Manhattan, they made a video and submitted it. Their problem with Olive and Pepper became the summer’s first episode. In it, Galaxy:
- Gives Olive a food dish with a middle bump so she has to eat around it, ensuring that Pepper finishes and leaves first.
- Shows the couple how to build trees and platforms where Pepper can escape if Olive starts to attack. “Build a vertical world,” Galaxy says.
- Tells them to stop running every time Olive whines, scratches or throws a temper tantrum. “Don’t positively reinforce bad behavior,” he says.
It’s been three months since the last catfight. Bandy and Petriello are back in the same bedroom, wedding planning is again in full swing, and the couple spends hours each day playing with both cats in the same room.
The cats may never be fast friends, but they are coexisting — and Pepper’s confidence is growing.’
That’s not a bad approach to the problem. What the show doesn’t discuss is that keeping multiple cats in the same is often problematic. Cats are not pack animals like dogs. In the wild they tend to demarcate their own territories and protect these territories from other cats.
Sometimes cat hit it off with each other and do great. But not nearly as often as dogs do. If there is a problem, owners often try to ‘make them friends’, but that’s precisely the wrong thing to do. If the cats are competing for dominance, encouraging both cats simultaneously will only escalate the problem.
So how do you teach cats to coexist in the same house:
- Get it right in the beginning. Cats coexist best if they know each other from kittenhood. If you want two cats – get two young kittens together.
- Mixed gender works best. A boy and girl is a better combination then either single gender.
- Desex both cats. This makes a significant difference to aggression levels.
- The key word is ‘coexistence’. Make sure all cats have safe spaces where they can hide and relax. Don’t feed them together and provide multiple litter trays for safe toileting.