Do your cats get along?

Cats fighting

New Zealand is a nation of cat lovers. There are estimated to be 1.3 million pet cats in New Zealand and approximately 45% of those live in multi-cat households.  But these cats don’t always get along and social stress can lead not only to aggression between the cats but also medical issues triggered by the stress such as urinary issues.

In a study looking at cats living in multi-cat households, owners observed signs of aggression such as growling, hissing, chasing and attacking 14% of the time. However, when these households were videoed and feline behaviour experts were able to observe how the cats interacted, there was actually signs of conflict 67% of the time.

More subtle signs of conflict between cats include:

  • Passive displays of aggression such as staring, blocking access points such as the doorways or cat doors
  • Hiding
  • Decreased play behaviour
  • Changes in eating habits such as gulping food or eating less
  • Decreased grooming
  • Increased stress-induced medical conditions such as urinary issues, diarrhoea and overgrooming.
Feliway Friends

So what can be done to help our furry friends live together harmoniously?

  • Feed cats separately (in the wild, feral cats never share kills)
  • Provide multiple resources such as water bowls and litter trays in different locations to avoid competition for access
  • Ensure there are enough climbing, scratching, hiding and resting areas for all cats
  • Slowly introduce new cats into the household (information on how to do this can be found on

Feliway Friends

Feliway friends has recently been launched in New Zealand after being available overseas for a while. This is a pheromone diffusor that emits cat-appeasing pheromones. This pheromone is secreted from the mammary glands of lactating queens to help create the bond between mother and kitten while reassuring and comforting the kittens, therefore promoting social confidence. Use of this product in a study resulted in a reduction in aggression by 1 week and  84% of cat owners reported their cats getting along better after using the product for 1 month.

Dr Nikki Frost BSc BVSc MANZCVS (Medicine of Cats)


Franklin Vets

Franklin Vets - excellence in veterinary care for dairy, farming, lifestyle, equine and household pets. BESTPRACTICE ACCREDITED NZ.