Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have inherited two cats that have lived together for a year. They now live with me and my cat and dog. The dog seems OK but the cats are hissing, spitting and swatting some. So far, there have been no “knock-down, drag-out” fights. I’ve never had multiple cats that weren’t from the same litter.
How much of this is normal, if there is such a thing as normal when it comes to cats. Right now, I’m sure that they’re just getting used to each other but I’d like to have some level of expectation of “get-alongedness”.
I have 5 cats (all strays). I used to have brothers, who were the best. They never fought. The current cast of characters includes two tiger-stripped males. One hates the other & will act aggressively. Otherwise, there are no issues to speak of. The most important things are that they each have a little territory of their own - a bed, even a chair - and that they get some exercise.
When my daughter was young, she would sometimes confuse their playing with fighting. Generally, if there’s no fur flying, they’re just playing. I love watching them chase each other across the backyard. They’re having fun & will sleep well later.
It took my two unrelated and put together as adult cats three years and a move to reach the point of tolerating each other enough to allow their tail tips to touch while they laid two feet apart on our queen sized bed. It can take a LONG time for adult cats to sort out their differences.
Now I have two different cats, still unrelated, but they shared a cage at the shelter from about 8 weeks old and came home within a week of each other (they would not let us bring home two unfixed cats of opposing sex together.) They mostly adore each other, but once or twice a month, the fur flies and we are treated to a whole day of catfights.
So even when cats get along, they don’t ALWAYS get along…just like people.
I have two cats, a 15-year-old male and a 9-year-old female. The male was already 7 when I adopted him, so I had the female first. Until a few years ago, the male would periodically beat up the female, who would just lie on her back and unsuccessfully try to push him away. Now, he’s too old to fight. These two never ever play together, and refuse to even use the same litter box. I’ve seen her grooming him only about 3-4 times over the years, and have seen him grooming her exactly once. They do eat out of the same bowl, but that’s my choice, not theirs. Basically they just stay away from each other. They each interact with me and my husband, but never at the same time.
We have 8, 5 boys & 3 girls. All but one, the oldest female are drops, feral & trapped we have taken in over the years.
‘Full on take them to the vet to get stitched up and needing more than one day of home blood plugging’ is only three times I think in 14-15 years as we accumulated them all.
The oldest is a all white cranky butt who hates everyone & everybody, feline, dog, humans, if it is alive, she hates it. She is usually left alone.
The females do not start trouble unless one of the boys is being an asshat, which is fairly often.
The boss male changes between the 3 of them on a yearly/daily basis.
The newest is a midsized male who we dug out of our culvert while not too old and he still must be kept separated.
He thinks he has to fight any of the others and he is some major part Siamese and so = way stupid & won’t learn. Three of the other old boys would do major damage to him when he attacks so for over a year now we have been working on this. it means he is a PITA responsibility wise.
The dog only pays any attention to the cats when they try to get into his food if he has not finished. Neither dog side is afraid of the cat side and vice a versa which includes the neighbor dog who is here about ½ the time.
Outsiders rue the day they end up on our property.
Lots of attention and attention to one with the other seeing it and very consistent treatment of all makes the world work for us.
I have 3 cats. They all “fight” every day. Fur might fly, but never any blood drawn. Sometimes they stalk each other, chase other, and are really playing. Sometimes one wants to play, and another doesn’t, so there is the added bonus of growling. Sometimes they start out lovey-dovey and licking each other, then someone crosses a line that I can’t see and yowling starts. From there, either someone stalks off, they starts fighting for space - in my lap!- and I kick them off, or they start another chase, or they run away.
Basically, unless you’re seeing serious injuries, they are playing or just working out a few things about hierarchy. Serious injuries would be things like ripped ears (in terms of the seriousness of the fight), big wounds on the head or body, or heated bumps that seem tender to the touch. Those should be seen to by the vet. Cats abscess easily, lucky things.
My boys are 9 years old, not littermates but we got them both as kittens. One of them has “crazy time” in the morning and evening and the other is a bully, so they fight ferociously for a few minutes twice a day. The rest of the time they get along fine.
I have two cats, one very young and the other very old. The younger one was the first we owned. About once a day she will find a reason to sneak up on the other cat and start hissing at him. She tries to strike him with her paws, but she has been de-clawed so it is really more obnoxious than actually dangerous. The older cat is just a fat old man who wants to be left alone, so he doesn’t fight back. Sometimes he barely even acknowledges that he is “under attack.”
But, yeah, it’s been a year and the younger one still hisses every time he gets too close.
I have always had multiple cats. In fact, the brief time I had one, she was clearly lonely, and I had to get another. If they are just swatting and hissing, it sounds like they are just working out the hierarchy. If no one is actually needing vet attention, or being intimidated, everything is probably fine. Watch out for one cat confining itself to a very small space because it’s being bullied.
Two neutered, unrelated males. Both around ten years old, both acquired as kittens, a few weeks apart in age. They’re functionally siblings - they get along very well with the occasional normal squabble. But I went out of my way to try and pair them up. The first was a highly social, energetic little hellion ( he still thinks he is a big fat kitten at ten ) and I eventually got him a sibling specifically to keep him company and wear him out. So the second was the most blasé, imperturbable kitten I could find - they used him to “cat test” new dogs brought into the shelter. By contrast the second one will happily fall asleep in the cat scale while visiting the vet and waiting to be examined. So that worked out.
But really I don’t think there is any general rule. Domestic cats are facultatively social and given enough space most can usually come to some sort of understanding, whether friendly or tense. But the variation is much higher than with dogs - they don’t have a pack instinct that prompts them to fall in line. Some love every new arrival, some will just never will grow to tolerate another pet in the same household and you can get variation everything in between. It’s a bit of a crapshoot.
I have 10, and there are occasional spats. Every so often two will gang up on one, but then later I’ll see the three of them hanging out in close proximity, with no tension.
Cats do generally adjust, but it takes time - a LOT of time sometimes. My one shy calico girl took 2 years to acclimate to being in the herd. She had been a barn cat (with bad weather house privileges) but when we moved she and the other 2 outdoor cats became house cats. The others fit in right away, she was wigged out for a good deal longer. But now she’s just one of the crew and fits right in.
Make sure you have spaces for them to get away from each other, and if you can get a couple of towers or shelves or even hidey-holes for them, so much the better. My guys have a big cat-proof-fenced outdoor yard with small dog houses and nooks under patio chairs to hide in, and indoors I have a couple of cat trees, and a few of the deep sided or burrow type nests for them. They also of course have the bed (on and under) and a couple of cabinets to sneak into. I also will put out boxes from time to time, those are always good cat-fun
Between my roommate and me we have five in the house. Three indoor, two who come and go as they please. The ones who go outside are not really very welcome by the other three when they come in to my room, aka their din. They growl when the outsiders come too close and sometimes my older one, the queen of the castle, will out of nowhere jump up and swat at both the outsider cats and the dogs, but I think she’s just kind of a near-sighted old grouch. No real fights though.
We did take in two of my roommate’s sister’s cats and they had to be confined to a room downstairs because when they were allowed upstairs ALL the cats started pissing everywhere to mark territory and they were all very tense and snappy. They did not stay long, thankfully.
We have six: two boys and four girls. One of the girls, our smallest Russian Blue, and one of the boys, a big rangy tabby, don’t like each other. She’s about five years older than he is, and she used to bully him when he was a kitten. Now he’s twice her size, and the tables have turned.
He doesn’t generally go after her–he just likes to get near her and stand there, watching her while she hisses and lays her ears back. Sometimes they fight, but she’s clearly intimidated by him and tries to avoid him whenever possible. We’ve tried Rescue Remedy and other similar things, but nothing works. Mostly I just rescue her from him (or him from her) if things get too tense. Usually they ignore each other.
The other four spat occasionally, but mostly get along fine, both with each other and with the other two.
i only had one but we had a large social group of cats owned by the neighbors that all hung out. Just a little minor bickering is all I ever noticed. An outside cat trying to join the group was another story it would get a little violent but in the end they were usually accepted.