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Not sure if cats are playing

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
We just introduced a new kitten (2 months) to a recently adopted cat (1 year old; we've had him for two months). They're both playful cats on their own. We introduced the cats as has been suggested (kept the kitten in a smaller area with its own litter box and food), contact done bit by bit, lots of positive reinforcement, but we did it rather quickly (over a couple days) as the cats seemed very anxious to meet each other and were not hissing or displaying any aggressive behavior.

Once introduced, they started doing what looks like playing. The kitten runs up to the older cat, and swats at him (with claws retracted), and then the older one chases and pounces. We're positive the older one is playing -- no hissing, claws completely retracted, withdraws after cornering the kitten, etc. He could easily dominate the little guy, but always backs off, or lies down when the kitten starts to get ornery.

It's the kitten we're not sure about. He is often initiating the contact, but sometimes when the bigger one pounces, he rolls onto his back and starts to hiss and sometimes growls a little. He looks like his claws aren't totally out, but it's hard to be sure. His behavior looks more aggressive, but he's much smaller too. He doesn't seem afraid though, as he often retreats under a couch or chair, but then comes right back out moments later to engage the older cat again.

During this past hour, they kept repeating this behavior, but there were also a few times when they'd both lay down and be just fine (at one point, they both crawled under the couch and were side by side facing out).

We're not sure if this is normal young cat playful behavior, or if we should back them off and introduce them more gradually. We've separated them for the evening, but aren't sure what to do next. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.
post #2 of 8
your kitten sounds just like Buffy, including the part where they're both small. When Buffy was younger, she'd always pounce on Willow, and Willow would 'fight' back, though she wasn't hissing or getting mad. Buffy would immediately flip over onto her back, legs spread wide. Someone has since told me that cats go onto their back like that so that they can put as much damage as possible into the other cat (grab on with forelegs, kick viciously with back legs). Buffy and Willow would start playing (fighting?) and then Buffy would kick Willow away and run under a chair or go into the next room. If Willow didn't go and chase her, Buffy would come back in a few seconds and pounce on Willow again. The same thing would happen, with Buffy bouncing over onto her back (sometimes Willow would plow her head into Buffy's side, causing Buffy to fall over onto her back). Eventually, Buffy would somehow win, as Willow won't want to play anymore, but Buffy just won't stop jumping on her. When Willow started to complain and cry, we had to take Buffy away. What a weird way to win a war...

It might just be me, but I think that could be how kittens learn how to play and fight. They're experimenting, seeing what things set the other cat off (like Buffy soon learned that biting Willow's back feet would cause a butchering on her part). Or maybe they just want to play, and they keep making mistakes and therefore they feel they have to run away. But then they decide to try again, see if they can improve their playing antics ("Okay, this time, don't go for the feet... Try the ears, see what happens")
post #3 of 8
Actually...my cats "still" do this...only less frequently. My male cat will try to engage his sister in a bit of a tossle and usually it ends of with her kicking him off and him chasing her until he realizes that he cannot win.

MissLeo...this sounds like very normal "kitten" behavior...and the fact that they lay side by side afterwards is a good sign that things are going well.

Congratulations on your furry friends.

post #4 of 8
Yes i agree also. Sophie has just turned 11 weeks and Rosie is two years old.

They both give each other the odd nip and bat when playing, but what my vet told me to still keep and eye on them, but if Sophie is going back for more thats when their playing!.

Needless to say she does go back for more!
post #5 of 8
I was wondering the same thing--I have a 2yr old girl--Jinxy & a 3 month old Teddy. We just adopted Teddy a month ago. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are fighting or playing--they roll around & wrestle--but I don't hear any growling or hissing so I guess it's playing--sometimes I do see claws but only slightly. They chase each other & wrestle all the time but when it's time to nap they both often sleep on the bed. It seems if one is in a room the other has to be too--I think it's a love/hate relationship. They are really cute together--Jinxy the older girl, is always licking Teddy!
post #6 of 8
Sounds like play to me. If an older cat has had enough from a young kitten, it usually ends with a big smack from the adult, with the kitten rolling on its back in submission. Of course there are kittens who just won't back down, and in that case, the adult usually just leaves to find its own space. The 2 of them laying next to each other is a good sign that things are fine between them.
post #7 of 8
thats interesting... what if the older cat gives the younger cat a smack, and then goes away, but the younger cat follows the older cat? What about when the older cat is driven to the point where she's racing around the house, the younger one in hot pursuit. Sometimes its play, but sometimes you can hear Willow hissing as she runs.

So far, I'm certain that Buffy wants to play 24/7, and Willow tries to take the easiest way out (squealing and hissing until her human servants take the kitten away) and even then Buffy won't leave her be. What a sad little life for Willow... lol
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for the replies; you decreased our anxiety, and we settled in and watched the cats but didn't separate them. They've calmed down, and definitely were just figuring each other out....two happy kitties!
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