First of all, you guys have me blushing
Don't worry about being too wordy Clover, better too much info than not enough IMO!
She disliked him from the second she saw him. And since then, every time we have let them meet, she continues to hiss, growl at him constantly and run away from him. Since she has come into our home, Templeton has just wanted to play with her, following her around constantly. When she growls and hisses at him, he backs away cautiously, but always end up pushing his luck and trying again to bat at her, pounce her and generally be in her vicinity. He'll occasionally chase her under a couch and just stay there for a long time, while she growls at him.
Marcia's got it right. Hissing and growling is completely fine and nothing to be too concerned about.
None of this has anything to do with dominance or sexual drives. Templeton is much too young to be bothered with any of that - even assuming cat's do 'dominance' the way we tend to think about it. Which they don't, IMO/IME. If anything, Mochi is more likely to see him as an obnoxious kitten - which he is, lol. She's old enough to have been a mum (whether she was or not), so she's much more likely to react to him as a kitten who's nearly old enough to be chased off (most females drive off male kittens around 3-4m, if given the choice because males can threaten future litters of kittens.) - not as an intact male. Males can't even possibly become sexually active until 4 months at the very earliest, so his hormones haven't even begun to come in yet at 3 months. Him being unaltered isn't a factor.
So I ask, in everyone's experience, might it be better to keep them separate? Because she clearly doesn't like being around Templeton, I have been letting them be together for a few hours at a time and then separating them. I keep one of them in the bedroom and one of them has access to the rest of the house, and then we switch so they have equal playtime, and then time to rest. I don't like the idea of just keeping them together 24/7 because I like for Mochi to be able to have a rest from him and relax so she doesn't have to be stressed out all day.
Short answer? No. That being said, I wouldn't leave them together all the time either. You want to set them up for success, so set aside a 'kitten room' for the naughty mister to spend his time in at night and when you're away. During the times when you're home have him out. IMO it's safer for kittens to be restricted to one room when you can't be around anyways - houses can be dangerous for curious babies!
When you do have them together it should be just two cats and an empty room. that instantly makes the other cat the only fun thing for Templeton - thereby making Mochi guaranteed to be annoyed by his constant attention.
Instead, set out kitty toys, treats, and be ready to intervene with fun toys. Both of these guys are still just babies, you need to show them how to distract themselves or they'll get too intense.
Or would it be best to keep separating them? I have read some threads here saying that they may never get along, and a post from an owner who has had to keep their cats separate for six years now.
It is true that sometimes intros don't work out. But these situations typically involve at least one fully adult (IMO over 2 years) cat - one who is set in it's ways, usually hasn't met another cat before, and with an owner who didn't follow proper intro protocols. Now, that's not always the case, but generally speaking you're starting from a fairly good place.
Even if they don't get along at all right away (and I mean fights, chasing, yowling screaming, etc - not just little fussy hissy fits) it's still possible for them to coexist in the future. Our two girls were mortal enemies for the early part of Torri's life, now (with a LOT of work, time, and practice) they are starting to learn to get along. I'm not expecting them to groom each other, I'm thrilled they can now sit within 4 feet of each other without their being a screaming match! (That being said...they had a little teeny bit of play the other day!!! HUGE milestones can be reached given time!)
I feel like if my cats never have the opportunity to work things out, they never will.
No. This mindset of "throw 'em together and let them figure it out on their own" sounds to me the same as saying "It's totally fine to put 3 year olds in a room with very sharp scissors and knives and no supervision. They'll figure it out."
Sure, it could work...but there's likely going to be a dr visit involved. Bad plan.
A better plan is to set up a play room with toys, treats and supervision, then be prepared to step in when either kitty is looking overwhelmed.
When they do interact, it is not excessively violent. It is mainly Templeton chasing Mochi around and her running to some hiding place. He will get bolder and bolder and start batting at her, and even pouncing on her if he can. But the most that has happened so far is that she yowled loudly when pounced on and then got swatted away.
All of that is completely fine and, for the chompy Templeton, necessary! He needs to learn manners, and the one best equipped to teach him is Mochi - but you can't let him overwhelm her either. My rule of thumb for introducing kittens goes something like this:
Two kittens, one pounces on the other and they play happily = fine.
Two kittens, one pounces on the other and the pounced on one cries in pain, the first kitten backs off - fine.
Two kittens, one pounces on the other and the pounced on one cries in pain, the first kitten bites again! = not fine. Step in.
You HAVE to give Templeton a chance to hear Mochi's objection and react or he'll never learn. If she objects and he ignores it then you need to step in and distract him to help him calm down.
Or have I already botched things and ruined their chances of being able to be buds?
They're both still young, you haven't ruined anything. *hugs*
[quote=Clover;2337314]I have tried distracting them with toys and treats to ease the tension, but Templeton is completely fixated on her when they are together, and she will not play as long as he is there.[quote]
The solution to this is planning. Play to let them play the next day you have time to dedicate to it. Skip their breakfast so both kittens are nice and hungry (missing a single meal will not kill them - especially healthy kittens...although they might try and convince you otherwise
), then grab a toy and play with Templeton alone until he's nice and tired - won't even chase a toy. THEN it's time to try intros. Set out treats like little bites of cheese, cooked meat, or cat treats, and have a meal ready for each of them.
Get them out in the play room together, Mochi first (give her 5 minutes to explore the room alone while you tire Templeton out in another room), and then bring in tired Templeton. Have a laser pointer going, wand toys nearby, and make them fun!
Don't give them a chance to fixate on each other, every time they get too into it (staring, too close, etc), say "Treats Time!!!" and toss down some yummy goodies right between them. That will build positive associations with being close together and distract them to reduce tension.
Even if Mochi doesn't want to play initially, get Templeton playing. It will be stimulating enough for her to watch him play and watch the toy bounce around. Remember that 90% of hunting is all visual and small movements, with a very little bit being actual running and jumping - just watching is still part of it.
Take it slow, and you'll get there. When things are pretty calm feed them their meals in the same room, then separate them. Always end on a positive and it'll improve quickly.
With your girl being a year and just spay, she may still have hormones running through her AND smelling an intact male (even so young) may be reminding her of past experiences right now. Because she won't call, she will be cranky at any male until her hormones settle down.
If Templeton was older this would be a good point. As it is he's not yet producing hormones, so she's only going to see him as a kitten - not an irritating male. Aside from that, assuming all cat mating experiences are traumatic is anthropomorphizing. It's mating, plain and simple - nothing traumatic about it. Going into heat without satisfaction could arguably be traumatic (at least on their body - due to a cyclic heat pattern that just endlessly repeats...yuck), but the mating itself isn't bad or damaging.
I can't really see intact males being associated with other traumatic experiences, so I'm sorry if I'm reading that wrong. Feral cats don't really compete for food, males don't chase females for no reason. If a female is beaten up it'd be by another female...and that's unlikely anyways. Males fight, females don't tend to when given enough room that they can run away.
You could do some scent swapping.....rub a blanket or towel on one and let the other smell. Swap their toys between them. If they are out together and supervised, let them hiss, growl, and bat at each other. They are trying to establish dominance or pecking order. Give treats or special attention when they get along well. If they fight to the point of hurting each other, separate them into their own room and try again another time.
It has nothing to do with dominance. Even if dominance was a factor Mochi is too old to be worried about Templeton who's a baby and exempt from dominance 'rules' for another few months. And dominance is still the wrong term. A female would kick him out of her territory because he'd compete for food, or get older and be a risk to her kits - she wouldn't care other than that.
Again, cats don't do dominance the way we think of it, neither do dogs but that's a whole 'nother post. (PM me for info, I'm too lazy to dig up sources atm...but 'dominance theory' ala Ceasar Milan has been thoroughly debunked. And I have MANY scientific papers that prove that.)
Right now he is an irritating little pest to your older girl. She is a teenager/almost adult (and may have had a litter or two of her own before)....he is about equivalent to a 4-6 year old.
THIS is very accurate. He's an annoying little boy with no manners.
Believe it or not, these are all good signs.
Marcia's right on the nail. He's a pain, they'll likely start getting along pretty quick but you can make that more certain and help the process along.