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Friday, 3 October 2014

Battersea’s reaction to one cat per household research

Q&A with Lindsey Quinlan, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s Head of Cattery.

Is there a cat population crisis?

Yes - there are far more cats in the UK, than there are homes. Battersea takes in almost 3,000 cats a year which are dumped, abandoned or lost by their owners. The only way to control this problem is to neuter your cats. Battersea neuters and microchips every cat it rehomes to help reduce the large number of unwanted litters born every year, but it is vitally important that owners do the same to make a difference.

Are cats more suited to areas where they have space to roam, such as farms?

It's crucial for there to be enough resources in one area to reduce competition with other cats. Today's domestic cat has evolved from the African wildcat - a solitary hunter that is highly territorial. A cat may have more space to roam on a farm, but if there are a lot of other cats there sharing that space, it could still be a highly stressful environment.
Cats are individuals and we need to consider their specific needs. Asking a highly sociable pet cat that loves people and sleeping 15 hours a day on the sofa to live on a farm, wouldn't be appropriate, and likewise, asking a free roaming, very independent cat that perhaps finds people threatening or scary to live in a home wouldn't make that cat happy.

Would cats be happier living in one-cat households?

Every cat has its own unique personality, and therefore it entirely depends on the individual pet as to whether it is happier living alone or with another feline. Some moggies will find living with other cats very unsettling and stressful, and some will merely tolerate the presence of another cat in the house. Usually cats that enjoy the company of another feline are cats that have lived with a litter mate or family member since their socialisation period, before 9 weeks of age. Space is a key factor in kitty companionship, if a cat is kept entirely indoors; it's probably safest to only have one cat in the household to avoid disputes over resources, such as food, space and owner’s attention.

Do cats get lonely without other feline friends?

It's highly unlikely that any cat would have a reduced quality of life from being the only cat in the household. Often people come to Battersea who have had two cats but sadly have lost one, and want to rehome another because they believe their cat is missing the lost pet, and wants a friend. It is highly unlikely this is the case, and the majority of felines will not want a new cat intruding on their territory. If the existing cat appears to be missing the other pet, it will be missing that individual - and introducing a new feline in the household to 'replace' the previous cat can be a recipe for disaster.

Are there health risks to cats that live together?

Two cats that are being forced to live together can physically fight but can also become mentally stressed, which can result in stress-related illnesses, such as cystitis. It can also result in behaviour problems, such as aggression, redirected aggression on people, toileting problems, urine spraying and over-grooming. If your cats are displaying aggressive behaviour towards one another on a regular basis, you should seek advice from a behaviourist.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 3:10 pm  

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