Last Updated: 1 month ago

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 Multi-Cat Household: A Complete Guide

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

cat vaccination

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

cats staring at each other

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

Need to know how to set up your house for two cats or more? Read on for our complete guide, including apartment tips!

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

Need to know how to set up your house for two cats or more? Read on for our complete guide, including apartment tips!

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

two cats playing on a cat tree

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.

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.

How to Keep a Multi-Cat House Clean: Smart Tips

Many people have the wrong impression about multi-cat homes, thinking that a house full of felines must be smelly and filthy with cat hair all over the furniture.

However, keeping a multi-pet house odorless and spotless is not impossible. I’m not going to lie, though. It requires a lot of effort and elbow grease, especially when you have more than 3–4 cats.

It’s all a matter of having the right cleaning tools and cleaning your cats’ litter boxes every day.

Get Rid of Carpets

Speaking from experience, keeping carpets clean with several felines is challenging, even if you have cats that don’t shed much. 

Moreover, carpets tend to absorb unpleasant odors and are hard to clean if your cat has an accident. Not to mention that cats love to puke on plush surfaces.

As such, it’s better to opt for laminated flooring or hardwood floors to keep a multi-cat house clean. When there’s a mess, you just mop and forget about it.

Get a HEPA-Filter Vacuum Machine

When you have a flock of cats, you need to vacuum often, or you’ll soon have enough cat hair in the air to knit a sweater.

However, not all vacuum cleaners are suitable for cat hair or cat litter. I usually rely on my HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner.

Such vacuum cleaners have sufficient power to remove embedded fur from the carpet or furniture and trap pet dander and other dust particles inside the filter.

Of course, you can also choose a robotic vacuum cleaner and program it to clean targeted areas where your cats make the most mess.

Purchase an Enzymatic Cleanser

With multiple cats around, one is bound to have an accident or vomit foam on the floor. As such, you must have pet-safe cleaning products at hand to get rid of the mess as soon as you discover it.

Most owners make the mistake of cleaning cat accidents with the usual housecleaners or water. And they’re surprised when other people say that the house smells like cats. 

Most cleaners aren’t strong enough to remove these strong smells. That’s why the cat returns to pee or poop at the same location.  

What you need are enzymatic products. These enzymatic cleaners dissolve uric acid and work great for getting rid of cat odors. So, they’re a must-have to keep a multi-cat house clean.

Provide Multiple Litter Boxes

multiple litter boxes in house

Unless you like cleaning cat urine or poop from flower pots or other surfaces, you need multiple litter boxes for multiple cats.

Cats should have separate litter boxes to avoid trouble. The general rule that cat parents should follow is to have one box for each cat plus one extra.

As specialists explain it, “Having multiple boxes prevents overcrowding into one where your cat has to step on others’ waste and may feel like there’s not a spot clean enough to go.”

And you should place the litter boxes in several locations so that one cat can’t block the other felines from going to the right “bathroom.”

Scoop, Scoop, Scoop

As you know, keeping the litter box clean is essential for keeping your house clean and odor-free. With multiple cats, you need to scoop the box several times a day and dispose of the dirty litter.

It’s easy for the unpleasant odors to linger inside the house and stink it up. And you may never even realize it until someone points it out because it’s easy to get nose-blind with several cats around.

Moreover, dirty litter boxes are a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It can be dangerous for your and your cats’ health if you don’t scoop it. 

Opt for Washable Fabrics

Like carpets, fabrics accumulate odors, especially when multiple cats share one space. Usually, the cat bed lasts about 3–4 days before it’s all covered in fur and stinky as hell. 

So, make sure all the cat beds in your home are machine washable so that you can quickly clean them.

Spay or Neuter Your Cats

Due to competitive behaviors, the probability of urine spraying indoors is directly proportional to the number of cats in the household.

Both male and female cats spray, so you should have your pets fixed as soon as possible to avoid them getting used to marking territory.

Spaying or neutering your cats also ensures your pets won’t get into fights for dominance or engage in mating behavior.

Brush Your Cats Regularly

using a cat brush

The more you brush your cats, the less pet hair you’ll find around your home. 

And grooming your cats is vital for keeping their coats smooth, luxurious, and healthy. 

Clean Accidents Right Away

Whenever your cat has an accident and pees on the carpet or another surface, you should clean it as soon as possible. Otherwise, the unpleasant smell will linger. 

Remember to use the right cleaning products to remove the stains and odors from the affected surfaces.

Resolve Conflicts

When cats are under stress, they often mark territory and exhibit other common behaviors that can turn your house upside-down. That’s why it’s important to keep the peace in the household.

  • Provide enough food bowls for all cats.
  • Ensure all cats have suitable beds, blankets, and spots to nap or sleep.
  • Provide vertical surfaces to enrich your cat’s environment.
  • Consider calming pheromones or anti-anxiety products to reduce stress.

Don’t Let Dust or Hair Build Up

To keep a multi-cat house clean, you can’t slack off, or your home will quickly get covered in cat hair and cat litter.

  • Dust and vacuum every two to three days.
  • Wash your cat’s bedding weekly.
  • Check the drapes for accumulated pet hair weekly.
  • Wash food and water bowls regularly.
  • Change the litter often, and wash the litter boxes to remove accumulated bacteria and odors.

Have a Separate Room for Cat Stuff

Some of my friends always say how bad the cat food smells. And they’re right, but I’ve gotten so used to it that I don’t notice it anymore.

To reduce these odors around the house, it’s better to have a dedicated room for all of your cat supplies. And you won’t have to wonder where you’ve left the cat food.

Considerations for Multi-Cat Household

cat and kittens using water fountain

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. We 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.

How Do I Clean My Litter Box With Multiple Cats?

To clean your litter box with multiple cats, you need to scoop the toilet box several times a day to keep it as clean as possible. Consider investing in an automatic cat litter box that will do the scooping for you. 

How Do I Keep My House From Smelling Like a Cat?

To keep your house from smelling like a cat, use enzyme cleaners to get rid of urine smells, vacuum the floors, wash your cat’s bedding regularly, air your house often, and don’t forget to scoop the litter box every day. 

How Often Should You Vacuum If You Have a Cat?

You should vacuum and dust at least once a week, or every two to three days, to remove pet hair from the furniture and flooring.

Wrap-Up

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!

Need to know how to set up your house for two cats or more? Read on for our complete guide, including apartment tips!
Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen

Nicole is 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.