According to the ASPCA, cats may stay together for about a year before they become friends with one another. The level of closeness or attachment varies – it is stronger in some cats than others. If cats live together for up to a year without taking to each other, it may never happen no matter how long they stay together. But that may not be an issue if they are not exactly causing problems.
How can you encourage your cats to take to each other?
Cat friendships mostly form naturally. However, it can happen faster if the conditions are right. You have roles to play as a cat owner. For instance, it is your responsibility to make each cat secure and ensure they both get ample individual space. Their needs should be separated – bed, litter box, toy box, water bowls, and even food. This makes it easier for them to enjoy their ‘me time’ in their safe space.
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Each cat should also get considerable individual affection and attention. This prevents jealousy and aggression. Catnips are not always advisable for cats in the same space, especially if they have high aggressiveness tendencies. Instead, provide a lot of toys separately for both. If it ever gets messy, break up their fights without favoring either of them.
If you are playing with both cats, ensure they have as much fun as possible. Post-fun rewards should also come in equal amounts and levels. Cats are particular about equality, especially when treats are involved.
Another way you can encourage friendship between your cats is to create a big cardboard box that can accommodate them both. The setup looks like a tunnel with both ends open. The arrangement is known to spur cats into playing and having fun together.
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Reducing aggression also works!
Do not leave your cats in the same room while you are away, except they are already on good terms with one another. This is one way of preventing catfights in your absence, especially if one or both cats are yet to be neutered or spayed. The best time to neuter your cats is when they weigh at least 2 lbs and are eight weeks old. Neutering minimizes aggression in cats.
If your cats suddenly start fighting after being best of friends for a while, it might be due to stress. Check if there is any recent change in your environment, for instance, a new pet, a new house, or a new baby. It might also be that one of the cats is sick and therefore showing signs of grumpiness. You need to understand the reason behind this sudden switch.
If the change is due to health issues, invite the vet for a check. It can be difficult to figure out your cat’s health because they are good at hiding physical symptoms. So, always bring in a vet when unsure. A sweet-turned-sour relationship between your cats may also be caused by boredom. In this case, shower more individual attention on your kitties. You may also bring in some new scratching posts, cubbies, or toys.
In the end, you must realize you cannot force cat friendships. The first step is to get them to coexist in the same household. Sometimes, the relationship might not develop beyond coexistence, but creating an enabling and stimulating environment makes things better.
So, make them happy by giving them plenty of attention, love, and affection. You should also get them items that encourage interactions and fun, including toys, scratching posts with platforms, climbing shelves, and a spot in the sun where they can get a good view of the outside.
With all these in place, your cats are more likely to become more tolerant of one another. Remember, it takes time.