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Older cat plays too rough

post #1 of 2
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I am new to this forum! I have had cats all my life, but as I am now out of college, I decided to get cats of my own. About a month ago, my fiancee and I adopted Mishu, a 1 year old female. She was pretty aggressive, biting hands and feet a lot, and not stopping even when a toy was given to her. I spoke with the shelter that I adopted her from (I also work there - the Boston Animal Rescue League) and they suggested I get Mishu a playmate. Last week my fiancee and I picked up Lily, a sweet 3 month old female.

Lily is very affectionate and likes to be pet and held. Mishu can only stand to be pet and held for a few minutes before she bites. We kept Lily in the bedroom for the first few days and would take her out and put Mishu in there so that Mishu could get used to her scent. After a few days, we introduced them for short periods of time. Mishu would hiss and swat, but nothing too major.

As of late they are more comfortable around each other. However, Mishu will climb on top of Lily and start cleaning her. Lily will stand for this for a few minutes, and then she will try to leave. When she tries to leave, Mishu will start biting her ears and throat. This prompts Lily to start squealing and hissing, but Mishu usually does not stop. Sometimes they start to tussle, and Lily will squeal then as well. Lily's safe spot is her litter box, which she will sit in when she doesn't want Mishu to be so rough.

My question is, is this behavior normal? Should I be worried that Mishu is making Lily squeal a lot?

post #2 of 2
First of all, thank you for adopting kitties that need homes!

And no, you should not be overly concerned. We've found that male cats are more social than females, and it can take a while for females to be accepting of the "new cat on the block." This behavior is very typical - one of our female kitties, Spooky, takes about 6 weeks before she stops beating up on new members of the household when they get in range, and about 6 months before she's actually friendly to them, so you're ahead of the game already!

Lily is probably quite capable of taking care of herself, and Mishu wants to show her who's boss. It may start as a "nice big sister" kind of thing and then turn into a power struggle.

We got tired of Spooky being mean to little Ming Loy when she first came home. Ming Loy is handicapped, and really couldn't defend herself so well. In fact, she's very wobbly on her back legs and falls down a lot. So as she trotted around, she leans up against things to stop herself falling over - and this included the other cats. All the cats - except Spooky - figured out real quick that there was something different about Ming Loy, and they took her handicap in stride. Spooky wanted none of it, and when Ming Loy would lean on her, Spooky would swat and hiss, and poor Ming Loy would fall on her back and stick all her claws out. Spook has finally accepted this behavior and no longer takes it as a personal offense.

Shelly did the "nice big brother" thing - licking Ming Loy. And at first she liked it. But when she's ready to go, and Shelly thinks he's not done, it turns into exactly what you described.

But we got tired of Spooky always hitting and hissing at poor Ming Loy, and Shelly not letting her go when she wanted to, so we got a can and dropped some coins in it. When Spook would go after Ming Loy, or Shelly wouldn't let her up, we'd rattle the can. It startles them out of what they're doing. After a couple of weeks, the behavior subsided to almost nil.

Watch the body language though. Mishu doesn't mean serious harm to Lily unless her ears are back - and that may be coupled with a bushy tail or "ridged" hair on her back (though it's far more likely Lily would have the bushed tail - to make herself appear larger to Mishu). But if poor Lily is struggling to get out from under Mishu, you may want to give her a hand with a can-coin rattle or loud clapping - some loud noise to startle Mishu.

The only other thing we did was to make sure everyone's claws were clipped BUT Ming Loy's. She was so much smaller than the other cats, we thought she ought to have a bit of an advantage. Once everyone had finally settled in (again, for us it took about six months), we made sure to clip everyone's claws equally.

You're a sweetheart for adopting these two kitties! Sending best wishes for lots of love with them and between them - and ask away. This site can be such a great resource!


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