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!
Let’s discover the ins and outs of managing a multi-cat household, providing insights, tips, and tricks to foster harmony and create a thriving feline community within your home.
Below, we’ll go over everything from litter boxes to food to personal space.
How to Set Up Your House for Two Cats Or More
Setting up your house for two or more cats involves creating an environment that accommodates their social dynamics and individual needs.
By implementing these changes, you’ll create a cat-friendly environment that promotes harmony and well-being for your feline companions in a multi-cat household.
Here are some insights to guide you:
1. 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.
Alex the Fuzz was a kitten from our feral colony who lost his mother.
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.
2. 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.
When introducing new cats, do so gradually. Start with scent exchange, then progress to visual introductions through a cracked door. Supervised face-to-face meetings can follow.
How do I do a scent exchange?
Introduce the scents of each cat to the other by swapping bedding or toys. This helps them become familiar with each other’s scent, making introductions smoother.
In cases of conflict, ensure there are escape routes or hiding spots where cats can retreat. This prevents confrontations from escalating.
3. Set up multiple litter boxes
Ask any expert how many litter boxes you need for a multi-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 five 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 are going outside the box.
- One cat is 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.
4. 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.
5. 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!
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.
Occasionally, I do need to physically remove him from Zoe’s space, though, and take him elsewhere until he forgets about it.
Considerations for Multi-Cat Household
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 one 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.
I definitely recommend going with a great odor-controlling litter box, though.
Are 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 a multi-cat household? Share below!