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Cat and kitten play fighting, How far is too far?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
How far is too far when it comes to cats and kittens playing?
I have a 5 year old neutered male, and a 10 week old male kitten. Dexter, the kitten, has slotted in nicely with our little family. Perrie, my older cat, took to him quite quickly, within a few days. The only issue we have is with playing. It usually turns into a wrestling match with Perrie kicking Dexter. They are always stopped at this point, but Dexter hasn't ever been really hurt by it.
Another problem along this line, is that Perrie likes to bathe Dexter, whilest Dexter doesn't like to be bathed. Dex will often 'fight back', biting and wriggling and generally resisting Perries attempts to wash him. Often this also will end in wrestling, with Perrie first attempting to pin Dexter down, then biting him, and then ultimately, again, the kicking.
I'm really worried that Perrie is going to cut Dexters tummy badly, but so far there appears to be no injuries. Dexter will sometimes cry out when Perrie pins him down, but he does that when I'm holding him and Dex wants to be put down. If I take to long putting him down he'll start crying.

So really, what I need to know is what's acceptable during play, what's not, and how far is too far? I don't like to step in unless I have to, but because I'm not sure, I'm worried I'm stepping in too early.
They are always supervised when together. Dexter is locked up when there is no-one home, Perrie is shut out of our room at night if they don't settle (he doesn't always sleep with us anyway), and when I'm asleep, even the slightest peep from Dex will wake me up.
But I'm worried that if I'm constantly telling them off, that Perrie will develop psychological problems when it comes to playing with Dexter.

Thankyou for your help in advance,
post #2 of 9
if body parts like ears, tails are being torn off I'd say this is too far
post #3 of 9
I have a one year old cat, Zoe and a 13 week old kitten named Isabella. They are constantly play fighting. It was to the point where I thought that Zoe was being too aggressive so I talked to my vet about it. He basically said that unless one of them is getting hurt (cut, scratched, bitten etc) that it was play. He even said that a little bit of 'roughing up' was acceptable as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

If you watch kittens play with their siblings, their play can get pretty rough by human standards.

Another thing he warned me about was that even if there is some bullying happening, we (humans) need to be careful about breaking it up unless one is getting seriously hurt. Constantly breaking up little spats will just train your older cat to be more sneaky about how/when he bullies. I think it is just a break in period where the hierarchy needs to be established.

To minimize injury , just make sure all claws are trimmed Accidents do happen.

Does Dexter initiate contact with Pierre or does he avoid him and/or hide from him?

Also, bathing can sometimes be a show of dominance. This isn't bad, but just another way of Pierre showing Dexter who's in charge. Again, this is perfectly fine.

I hope I helped a bit I love the names, by the way
post #4 of 9
If there is no blood and its mutual (one isn't hiding in fear and hissing), then its all good.

These two chase each other and wrestle all the time, but they take turns and almost never hiss (except when Buttercup is sleeping in her tree and Wesley tries to initiate play by squishing her, but thats not common).
post #5 of 9
Cats will generally set their own boundaries during play. They learn this the way dogs usually do. If one goes too far the other will quit playing and the other learns limits. It is how they learn from each other. Just keep the nails trimmed. If you don't see one of them injured, bleeding or missing body parts it should be okay

I, on the other hand, have my own limits. I have 2 female cats that still play, chase and wrestle like 2 little kittens. Sometimes they get real rowdy. I put my foot down when lamps start falling and things start falling off shelves
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for your answers =)

They both take it in turns to initiate play, though Perrie will usually only do so if Dexter is already playing, and often Dexter will simply ignore Perrie during this time lol (which frustrates the hell out of Perrie!)

There was one incident where Dexter ended up with a scratch next to his left nostril. That's healing fine though, and I didn't notice it until later that night when we were cuddling up to sleep, it doesn't seem to bother Dexter. Other than that there are no injuries that I can tell to either of them.

I will trim back Perrie's claws when he comes inside (he's out on his run, no road sense! lol), but I was thinking that I'd keep Dexter's the way they are for now. I like to know that he can use them to let Perrie know if he's getting to rough, and they are only little so they shouldn't cause any damage beyond a pin prick...any thoughts on this? Or should I just go ahead and trim them too?

I am aware about bathing being a dominance thing, as is attempting to pin him down. I'm all for Perrie being dominante over Dexter, after all he was here first. Dexter doesn't see it that way though, lol.
Although he sort of unwittingly initiates the bathing because Dexter will often attempt to curl up with Perrie to sleep, and that's usually when Perrie will try and wash him.
I've no plans to try and stop that behaviour, it's mainly the wrestling that concerned me, particularly the kicking. Everytime this happens I get visions in my head of little Dexter's tummy being ripped open =(

I guess it's because Perrie is so much bigger than Dexter. But there is no aggression or appearance of fear from either of them. Perrie did carry on for the first few days, hissing when Dexter came too close, growling under the bed that 1st night, but neither of them have hissed for a good week now, and Dexter only growls when Perrie pins him down. Dexter will then try and run away once he gets up, and Perrie will often give chase, but that's usually forgotten quickly, especially if I tell Perrie to leave him, Dexter will turn around and chase him back, then pounce on him, than off they go again! lol

Adweena: Thankyou about the names, 'Dexter' really seems to suit my little kitty. Perrie (not Pierre =P ) came with his name from the shelter, but I've lengthened it to Peronie =) he answers to both.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
How do I know when it's turned from playing to actual fighting?
Is Dexter supposed to make alot of noise when they play, or is that when I should step in and break em up?
post #8 of 9
Originally Posted by MyMeezerOliver View Post
How do I know when it's turned from playing to actual fighting?
Is Dexter supposed to make alot of noise when they play, or is that when I should step in and break em up?
With actual fighting, they should poof up and start hissing and it will be noisy. Play fighting should be silent or at least relatively quiet affair. I've never seen a cat playfighting show teeth. If its not pretty obvious, its probably play.
post #9 of 9
what ducman said

With our two, Zoe was just added to the household end of dec at around 6 mos of age (she was about 6 lbs or less). Floyd just turned two on April 4th and was a big kitty (he's slimming down, was about 12-14 lbs when Zoe came around, now thanks to playing a lot and better food, he's at about 8-9 lbs and vet says healthy! yay!)

We were really panicky at first with the playing, but realized that unless there are 'annoyed' noises or hisses, its really just play/dominance stuff. They will tear around still and roll and pounce and grapple, but we just keep their nails trimmed and let them go at it. Usually if one or the other gets fed up or too rough, they will growl/make an irritated meow and then we'll separate them till they both chill a bit.

I would suggest keeping the little ones claws trimmed as well. Wouldn't want kitten getting a good swipe in and then kittycat deciding to retaliate with bigger (if duller) nails and teeth. IMO
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