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How to tell if this is playing or aggressiveness?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Our resident male cat, Sultan, has been chasing our newer cat, Swee'Pea (female) a lot and swiping at her fur. She runs from him but doesn't chase him back -- how can we know if Sultan is being playful or is he being aggressive towards her? It's clear that he's establishing dominance. He's about 4-1/2 years old and she's about 10 years old. He's been neutered and she's been spayed. We've tried scolding Sultan but of course that didn't do anything. Once in a while she'll shriek but most of the time she doesn't make any sounds. We think she seems to be alright otherwise. At night they sleep on opposite ends of the couch. Is this behavior something we should be concerned about or should we just leave them alone?
post #2 of 10
I can't really tell unless I see it. Is either cat crouching, puffing up the fur, swishing the tail in a jerky manner... the fear/anger signals? Whiskers and ears are other good indications.

But that's a lot like what Tiny was doing to Baby when they were first introduced. From what I could tell, Tiny wanted to play but Baby was scared, so it turned into a chase.

My solution was just to play with Tiny a lot, tire him out as much as possible, and tell him to knock it off when Baby started cringing or hiding. Nowadays, she chases him back and I almost never have to redirect Tiny.

Just watch out for stress in your little female; if you have to, put one of them in a closed room so they get a break from each other.
post #3 of 10
I agree with Callista. It is very hard to determine this without seeing it. Pay careful attention to what Sultan does with his tail when he is doing this. If he is moving it from side to side or up and down, it mean he just wants to play. He is also younger than Swee'Pea so ideally he will be more active and playful than her.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
I don't believe Sultan's tail swishes around or puffs up his fur, but he does crouch before he pounces at Swee'Pea. His ears aren't flattened either, which is good, right? I understand that flattened ears and swishing tails indicate hostility, right? He definitely uses his claws when he swipes at her because we see tufts of Swee'Pea's fur on the floor here and there. Does this mean he's being aggressive?

We wish Swee'Pea would chase him back. The interesting thing is that she used to be SUPER scared of him when we first adopted her -- she used to wail, hiss and growl at him even when he didn't do anything to her. But good thing she got over it and seems to have submitted to his dominance -- she's even flopped on her side and rolled on her back right in front of him a few times. He didn't do anything, he just watched her. Now she doesn't make those sounds like she used to.

But since only Sultan is doing the chasing, is this considered playing?
post #5 of 10
All signs say that he is just playing but the claws thing worries me a bit. As long as he isn't hurting her then you should be just fine.
post #6 of 10
Flopping on her back and rolling on her side is not giving up - it is "I'm ready to attack back." It's much easier to kick back for kitty when she's not standing on her legs.

If his ears aren't back, I'd say he's just playing. She runs - and he's grabbing - cats have claws - so he gets furr. But she gets mad, so she gets into the defensive attack position.

Give him a LOT of interactive play time. Use up that kitten energy. Do you have a laser pointer? It's usually really easy to run kitty around a lot with that. Praise him to high heaven whenever he's playing with something else. Say "No Sultan" sharply and shake an empty can with coins in it at him when he's trying to play with her and she clearly doesn't want to play. The noise will startle him, and if he doesn't already understand the word "no," this will help him learn the meaning.

If he doesn't let up, pick him up and put him in the bathroom for 2 minutes for a "time out."

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, Sultan is very finicky about everything, including playtime. He hasn't been interested to play with his toys like he used to, now that Swee'Pea is his new 'toy'. I sure hope he's just being playful, we're concerned about him using his claws. This is our first time to have more than one cat at a time so we have no experience with how cats play.
post #8 of 10
Playing can get rough. Every once in a while there will be little bits of fur even when they're nowhere near serious. By all indications, this isn't serious most of the time--I'd worry much more if they had got any scratches on face or ears, because that is the most likely location in real cat fights. If a cat wants to hurt another cat, it probably will... real cat fights are quite deadly. If yours haven't ever even drawn blood and the fighting is dying down, I think they are beginning to reach an agreement. You are probably seeing playing--even if your female is a bit irritated. Have you tried a laser pointer or a dangle toy like "da bird" on your younger cat? These can often stimulate even a lazy kitten to play.
post #9 of 10
Vocalizing is usually a sign the cat is saying "it's getting too rough." After all, when you have your head buried in someone's belly, you might not be able to pick up body language as usual.

Notice the way kittens play; no matter how rowdy it gets, they are usually silent.

I intervene when sounds occur, and not worry otherwise. if they can sleep at opposite ends of the couch, they are friends, and just need to learn each other's boundaries during play.
post #10 of 10
Do recall that "getting too rough" is different from an actual fight though, and less likely to cause any damage. If Tiny does that, I just tell him to back off and he usually does. If not, I grab Baby out of the corner he's backed her into (another sign of "too rough") and put her up on a high perch where he can't easily get to her. Baby owns the high perches; Tiny, the lower ones... If they were in a real cat fight I wouldn't be able to grab either one without getting shredded!
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