Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Why do my sibling cats not get on?

While the bond we have with our own brothers and sisters is often strong, cats don’t always have the same close connection with their own family members.

If you have more than one cat from the same litter of kittens, you might assume that they will be best friends for life, but there is no guarantee.

two tabby and white cats sitting outside

Cats are a solitary species with no in-built need for fellow feline companions and this also extends to sibling relationships.

Even if littermates get on at first, they can often drift apart as they get older, as cats don’t reach social maturity until they are between 18 months and four years old.

a littler of four tabby kittens

If your cat regularly grooms, rubs against or sleeps curled up with their sibling, then this is a sign that they are in the same social group and have a sustained sibling bond. However, if they block or time share (that is only use them when the other isn’t around) resources such as food, water, beds and litter trays, live in separate areas of the house or get aggressive with each other then they are definitely not a happy family.

two tabby and white cats grooming each other

The stress related to difficult sibling relationships can even manifest as behavioural problems or even medical issues such as urinary tract issues or skin complaints.

While there is no fix for getting your moggies to be best mates again, there are some simple things you can do to help them live happily under the same roof as each other.

Tips for helping sibling cats get along 

  • Use the FELIWAY FRIENDS® plug-in diffuser, which releases calming cat pheromones into your home to help reduce conflict between cats living together 
  • Resources, such as food bowls, water bowls, litter trays and scratch posts should be placed separately in different areas of the house, with at least one per cat and ideally one extra. This is particularly important with litter trays. Access to the garden can also be a resource that cats living together may block or time share, so consider having more than one way out into the garden 
  • Give your cats plenty of opportunities to hide and get up high, as this will help reduce stress. Cat shelves and cardboard boxes are perfect for this, as is Cats Protection’s Hide & Sleep® available from our online shop 
  • Spend time playing with each cat individually to give them an outlet to express their natural hunting behaviours – provide interactive play with fishing rod-style toys, and why not have a go at making some feeding enrichment toys 

If your cats are still not getting along, then arrange a vet check and your vet can recommend a suitably qualified behaviourist who can provide further advice tailored to your own situation.

For more general information about cat behaviour, visit www.cats.org.uk/behaviour 

1 comment:

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