Need some tips on how to set up your house for two cats or more?
I’ve had multiple cats for my entire adult life, so let me give you a hand!
Below, we’ll go over everything from litter boxes to food to personal space.
Let’s just dive right in, shall we?
How to Set Up Your House for Two Cats Or More
I’ve been a cat owner for 25 years now, and a multiple cat owner for all but 9 months of those.
I never really planned to have more than one cat.
In fact, when I was 20, I really didn’t plan to have ANY cats!
Don’t get me wrong, I always loved them, I just thought I was allergic to them.
Turns out that wasn’t the case. My mom just never wanted cats when I was younger, so she let me thing that!
Funny thing, though, now she’s a total crazy cat lady!
Anyway, I digress. The point is, I barely remember a time in my adult life that I haven’t had cats plural.
At one point, we had five at once!
Today, we just have Alex and Zoe (below), after my sweet Willow passed away earlier this year.
Let’s start with the very first thing you’ll need to do, then work our way down.
Then, we’ll discuss some specifics to apartment living with multiple cats.
Get your new cat checked out before integrating
If you’re adopting multiple cats at the same time from a shelter, this may already be covered.
Most shelters take care of deworming, first shots, and so on.
However, if you’re adopting from someone’s home or rescuing a stray, make an appointment for the same day that you pick up your new kitty.
Our Alex the Fuzz was a kitten from our feral colony who lost his mother.
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He loved people, adored my dogs (he would touch noses with them through the fence), and really wanted to come inside.
Before we even let him step foot in the house, though, we took him to the vet for a checkup.
After all, even though our indoor cats were vaccinated, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Make the proper introductions
This isn’t so much about how to set up your house for two cats or more as it is about laying the groundwork for a harmonious home.
So, rather than try to sum up how to do it in one paragraph, let me direct you to a few in-depth guides that we’ve written on the subject already.
Read this guide to introducing your new cat to another cat (or even a dog!) first.
Then, once you’ve made proper introductions, check out these 9 superb tips on how to get two cats to get along.
Let’s move on to things that you’ll actually set up in your home.
Set up multiple litter boxes
Ask any expert how many litter boxes you need for a multiple cat household and they’ll tell you pretty much the same thing.
Get one for each cat, plus an extra box. So, if you have two cats, you need three boxes…and so on.
By that logic, when I had 5 cats, I should have had six litter boxes!
I’m starting to wonder who came up with that rule- actual experts or litter manufacturers!
While I don’t want to contradict experts, I do want to ease your fears about a home overrun with litter boxes a bit.
In my 25+ years of cat ownership, I’ve never had more than three litter boxes at any given time.
Right now, my two cats share one box without any issues.
Now, there are caveats to downsizing.
For one thing, you need to be very diligent about keeping them clean.
Scoop out clumps every single day, for starters. You’ll also need to completely change out the litter more frequently.
There are some circumstances where more really is better.
Signs that you need that extra box include:
- One or more cats going outside the box.
- One cat bullying or harassing another while using the box.
- Health issues in one or more cats (you want to be able to observe their waste for signs of issues).
Where to set up multiple litter boxes
Again, experts will tell you to set them up in completely different rooms.
Not all of us have unlimited space for multiple boxes, though.
When we had three boxes, one stayed downstairs and two sat side-by-side in the laundry room.
When we downsized to two, we kept both in the laundry room until Willow got sick.
Then we moved one downstairs for her convenience.
If you do have the space, though, go ahead and scatter them throughout your home.
Now that we’ve dealt with the bowels, it’s time to talk bowls! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Don’t make them share food bowls
While you can get away with fewer litter boxes, you really want to stick with expert recommendations on this one.
They can share a water source, but each cat should have his or her own food bowl.
Sure, kitties may decide to eat out of each other’s bowls.
That’s fine, as long as they’re both okay with it and they’re both on the same diet.
However, if they’re on different diets, things change a bit.
Separate diets means separate spaces, too
Over the years, I’ve had cats that needed a different food than what we fed our other kitties.
My Willow had megacolon, and when she was dealing with bouts of constipation, she needed special food with laxatives in it.
So, not only did every cat need their own bowls, but they also needed their own space to eat.
Willow ate in my room, away from all of the other cats.
Once they finished eating, we put away all of their food entirely.
If you need more tips on setting up feeding time for multiple pets, check out the video below.
Make sure each cat has some personal space
Beyond feeding and potty time, you also want to make sure each and every cat has a place that they can go to get away from it all.
Here’s the good news, though- you don’t have to go too crazy here!
If you want to buy multiple cat trees, caves, and condos, by all means, go for it!
However, I’ve found that something as simple as boxes in different places works just as well.
I’ve even made fun Chewy box condos for my kitties!
They weren’t as clever as the ideas in the video below, but my cats still loved them.
What if one cat tries to steal the other’s personal space?
We run into this issue frequently with Alex and Zoe, so I want to bring it up quickly before we move on.
Alex changes nap spots more often than most people change their socks.
He goes from the window sill to the top of our grow tent (for growing cat nip indoors) to a new box to the back of a closet and back again.
Zoe has one box that she loves. We’ve had it since March. She eats in it, sleeps in it, and even bathes in it.
Every so often, Alex will decide that he wants her box to be his new nap spot.
So, he’ll try to bully her into moving and a fight ensues.
When we notice Alex getting all crazy-eyed as he’s stalking off towards Zoe’s box, we intercept.
Right away, I’ll find a different box and make it as irresistible as possible.
I line it with a cozy blanket, spray it with catnip, then nonchalantly leave it where he’ll see it.
Most of the time, he claims it right away and we avert the crisis.
Occasionally, I do need to physically remove him from Zoe’s space, though, and take him elsewhere until he forgets about it.
Considerations for multiple cats in apartments
For the most part, setting up your apartment for two or more cats isn’t much different than setting up a larger home.
Let’s address two questions that I often hear about it.
Can I have two cats in a small apartment?
Short answer, yes. I’ve done it without any issues!
You’ll want to look into some space-saving litter boxes, especially if you really need to go with more than box.
Like I said, though, one is doable for two cats sometimes! You can always try it first, then grab an extra if you need to.
Is three cats too many for an apartment?
That really depends on the apartment, the cats, and your own personal preferences.
If you’re living in a tiny studio apartment, I really wouldn’t recommend getting three cats.
I mean, it’s probably doable, but you’ll have to spend A LOT of time cleaning up after them to keep your apartment from getting super stinky.
If you have a larger apartment with multiple rooms, though, then it’s not really any different than having three cats in a small home.
Now you know how to set up your home for two cats or more!
It’s not terribly complicated, especially if your cats get along well.
If you do run into issues, though, it’s easy enough to make changes to better fit your feline family’s needs.
Do you have any other tips on how to set up your home for two cats or more? Share below!
Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief and one of the writers here on CatVills. She’s been a cat lover most of her life and-at one point- counted five felines as part of her family. Today, she’s proud cat mom to two indoor kitties and caregiver for a slew of ferals.