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Face-rubbing with humans and cat wrestling/fighting

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

We have two cats that have been fighting - it looks like play wrestling to start but graduates into loud meows and kicking.

The background: we rescued a 4-week-old feral female kitten who is now 10 weeks, very sweet and socialized. We already had a 4-year-old male [neutered] cat. The two cats coexist fairly well, but at least three times a day they have "fights."

The kitten is partial to me: she rubs my face with her head at least 3-4 times a day and purrs loudly to greet me. She wants to sleep where I sleep, sit where I sit, etc... She was very sick when we got her with a corneal ulcer and she's been nursed back to good health. The older cat is partial to my girlfriend, and other than rare cases of getting aggressive from being annoyed, is a sweet cat.

The cats will sit next to each other; they'll sleep on the same bed. Eventually the kitten will jump on the cat or vice-versa, and they'll start wrestling. It starts OK, but eventually gets out-of-hand into face biting and kicking. We won't leave them alone together as a result.

We've tried spray bottles, a loud "No," and even time-out, but they still go at it. No one ever seems to get hurt, which makes me question their seriousness, though it can be pretty intense.

Any ideas? Is the kitten being loving or marking me as her territory (or both)? Is this play-wrestling? Territorial battles? Jealousy? Will it get better?

By themselves, they can both be sweet cats. They'll even preen each other on occasion, though it eventually goes from licking to wrestling.

post #2 of 5
Toss that spray bottle in the trash. Spraying cats with water is not nice. To break up a fight, use a dark blanket and throw over the fighters or *carefully* place a wooden chair over them (don't squish a paw or tail)

I would do a few things, one would be to invest in a Feliway Comfort Zone Room mister and the other is to start putting vanilla extract on both cats, under their chins, between their shoulders and at the base of their tail. Once you get the female spayed, that will help as well.
post #3 of 5
Are you sure they are fighting? My two play like that all the time, and the first time I saw it, I panicked, but now I leave them be.

Are either of them crying or hissing or showing other signs of being scared? Can either of them break off the "fight" when they want to? Are their ears back flat against their head the whole time? Do they just wrestle for a while and then stop? When they have stopped, do they both just go back to being together?

When mine play, they start with gently grooming, then one puts a paw on the other to hold them down, then they grab each other around the neck, they the face biting and "rabbit kicking" start. It looks kind of rough, but they love it.

Of course, with a tiny kitten, you must be much more careful.

And, I think that the playing has a lot to do with territory and dominance, that's how they work things out.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
The kitten tends to be the aggressor - she'll jump on the cats head and start biting. I've seen kittens play rough this way. It can go on for 2 minutes without anyone hearing anything. Eventually one or the other starts crying or getting a bit out of hand.

Other times, they seem at play - chasing each other between rooms. These "fighting" incidents are intense enough (and focused on the face) that I don't think it's pure play, unfortunately.

Lastly, since the cat is 4x the size of the kitten, he'll see her playing, follow her around peacefully, and then jump on her and overwhelm her with his face buried in her chest. You hear crying pretty soon after that.
post #5 of 5
My bet is that they are still working out what their relationship will be. Since they sleep together and groom each other, they clearly have the ability to be friends. So, I wouldn't get too worried about their spats.

As long as they aren't shrieking and fur isn't flying, I would let it be. If they do shriek or start to do damage, I would follow Hissy's advice or do what I do when my crew gets out of hand....I simply toss a small pillow or even a cloth napkin at them (gently of course). This startles them and breaks their attention, which allows them to break up the fight without causing any harm or distress.
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