Cats are independent animals and share common ancestry with the African Wild cat, a species still found today.
The African wildcat lives in the savannah with a sparse concentration of prey so individuals live far away from each other and are solitary to avoid competition for the small amounts of food available.
Introducing new cats to each other
Like their ancestors, cats want to maintain an independent territory and are generally happy to live without any other cats for company. In fact, many cats living together under the same roof only tolerate each other to gain access to resources such as food, water, toileting areas and outdoor access. This can result in anxiety and stress, which is not always obvious, especially as cats often spend time together to access the resource.
The introduction of a new cat to existing cats can cause stress for both parties, and if an appropriate gradual meeting is not followed, may lead to behavioural problems such as spraying or inappropriate toileting. Multi-cat households can be harmonious.
If the cats are carefully introduced and each one has the ability to access separate and sufficient resources such as food, water and litter trays, without having to interact with any other cat, or face potentially stressful situations, such as children, dogs, noisy household appliances, in other words they are able to choose an independent life if they wish. African wildcats are small predators and rely on staying fit for survival.
As a solitary animal, they cannot rely on others in their group to hunt for them if injured. They would much rather avoid conflict by running, climbing or hiding than staying to fight. Like their ancestors, domestic cats are the same, so providing them with places to hide or get up high will lower the stress levels in their environment. If you would like more information on the behaviour of your cats and how to ensure a happy life for cats living together, you can visit International Cat Care (formerly known as FAB).