Introducing Two Kittens - Need Help!
So I have two kittens, Pepper (8 month old) and Snow (3 months and a half approx). I'm just going to go in a bit of background history for the two before I get to their introduction (if you don't want to hear it, you can skip the italicized part).
I've had Pepper for about 3 months now, and he has very high energy, so I adopted a 2nd cat to deal with it. I got tired having to play with him seemingly 5-10 times a day, 5 minutes to 15-minute sessions. The first Kitten I got from a rescue, Skylar, didn't jell well with Pepper as she'd run asap when she saw him (and I don't really need to tell you how Pepper reacted to a scared kitten), after a two-week introduction process. She was a lap cat, and not very confident in herself, and the polar opposite of Pepper - which I didn't realize mattered too much, and I thought she was energetic, but she ended up being a lap cat who doesn't move around much at all.
She was apparently bullied in her previous foster by another cat, so she had that tendency. I have a foster-to-adopt agreement with the rescue, so they took her back since she was being bullied and hiding a lot after every face-to-face with Pepper. It was the best for her, and she's being adopted with the same agreement (Which lasts two weeks, sometimes a little longer) and she'll likely reach her forever home, it was just unfortunate that Pepper is a male 8 month who seems to be either really aggressive or wants to wrestle and she wasn't interested in it.
I've told the rescue about Pepper's high energy, high confidence, and needed a kitten who would stand up to him, and not run in fear, but chase back and forth and wrestle even. That's where Snow comes in.
Snow was found in a box a few weeks old, and was a bottle baby to someone till a few week ago. He hadn't met another cat in that time till maybe a week or two ago. He ended up chasing the older cats (most of the kittens had been adopted) in the foster (like Pepper did with Skylar) and was very high energy and very confident. He fit the bill, so I adopted him. And when I got him, he had 0 second adjustment period, and as soon as he was in his room he treated it like his territory, if you never knew us and came in, you'd think he's been there for ages, he was as confident as Pepper, but Pepper took 2 months to be the mojito cat he is now.
So I may have rushed the introduction. Snow, who wants everyone's attention, doesn't want to stay in his safe room and wants to roam and play non-stop. So if we're at his door, you can bet he's trying his best to rush out, Pepper does the same if we close him in his room and he hears people outside. On top of that, Pepper tries to rush into Snow's room and plays paws under the door for atleast an hour a day with Snow, usually more.
So what's the problem? Pepper doesn't know how to hiss or growl. I don't want to hear he's never wanted to. He doesn't know how I'm convinced. He's never done it, not even when he attacked Skylar. Once I let her walk out of the safe room, just to see how Pepper would react, during an open door food test, he puffed up intensely and ran at her when she crossed a certain line. He gave her no warning, and she as usual ran away after he pounced. It's very difficult for me to tell whether he's being friendly or hostile to other cats. But he was definitely hostile toward Skylar because he'd bite a lot and she'd hiss, growl, and run to safety.
Whenever I pet the other cat and pet him, and let him smell it, he doesn't care at all, as I said he plays paws under the door. When I do the door test during introduction he has no problem to be right at the door, even when it's cracked open a bit, and no worries even when we use a gate where he can easily smack the other kitten. All tests suggest that he doesn't really care, and isn't hostile towards the other cat. I still take days for each stage (5 days), since I want it to go well. I've been told Snow will hiss, but he hasn't either, I've never heard him hiss or growl. Both cats are VERY vocal with their meows, specifically when you close them in their rooms, so it's not like they're shy about making noise.
So after two days of eating right at the gate in front of each other, they sort of paw each other through the gate, which seems friendly since neither wants to leave the gate and both are pawing at each other through it. I decided in the morning to let them meet. They met, there was a little sizing up, smelling each other. No pawing at all, no puffing, which was unusual to me. Since they had met each other previously by accident and Snow was more aggressive (Since both try to run through the door when we walk in their rooms, and they've both ended up escaping, and the other is usually at the other side of the door also trying to get in, and usually Snow paws Pepper right from the beginning, since Pepper goes uncomfortably right up to the other cats to smell them everywhere- and we separate them immediately). I thought maybe Snow was starting to get slightly more friendly toward Pepper. And Pepper wasn't biting or pawing at Snow, which he did with Skylar. Then Pepper ended up wrestling with Snow, I couldn't tell if it was hostile.
Before the wrestling- cats tails weren't swishing, no growling, no ears folded back, no hissing, eyes were dilated I THINK- was the only warning I could see. I ended up breaking it up because while they were wrestling, Snow had a mouthful of Pepper's face. During the wrestling, both cats ears were folded back, which I read about later meaning it was a fight. I thought if it wasn't folded prior then it wasn't a fight? But there was no screaming, howling, hissing, etc. during the fight. So I'm still not certain if it was a fight. However, Snow was injured. He wasn't moving out of his carrier, and I wasn't letting Pepper near him anymore and was playing a toy with him a few feet away from Snow to keep him distracted till I could understand what just happened. Snow never ever hides, and I thought to just separate them till Snow can recuperate - I did spray them to stop (first time I sprayed him ever), I thought maybe I caused that fear response in him of some sort. I ended up taking him to the vet next day and he was injured in all 4 paws, soft tissue injury, and a sore knee. The wrestling only lasted 5-10 seconds MAX. No scratch or bite marks seen anywhere. So I'm not sure at this point if Pepper caused it (the vet don't think it was him either), or he was injured before we even entered the room. Since he wasn't standing up to Pepper when we all thought he would be the one initiating. He has a large Cat tree in the room, about 6 feet, I believe he's been jumping off it whenever he hears someone at the door since he REALLY wants to get out. So I've now made steps for him, which are a bit more easily identifiable. But I still think that 5 second to 10-second wrestling match they had was hostile, since Snow did have a mouthful of Pepper's face with their ears tucked, and it looked painful to me.(Please let me know if you think otherwise!)
So now I'm keeping them separated, and Snow is slightly back to himself with the meds, back to trying to run out, and meowing at the door, and is playful and affectionate. Pepper and him are back to playing paws under the door for an hour every morning and throughout the day, and when I open the door with a gate only, they don't stop 'wrestling' through the gate.
I made the gate. Neither tries to jump over it, Snow tried initially, I just picked him up by the scruff and put him back down, he doesn't do that anymore. Pepper is the tabby, and Snow is the white kitty.
So I was just wondering (after Snow is feeling better), should I completely restart the introduction? Should I let them meet face-to-face? How do I know when to go to the next step, when neither seems to care at all during the introduction? Is them wrestling and pawing through a door, and gate, a good or bad sign? How can I tell if they're fighting or playing, and how do I know if Pepper is going to attack him or vice versa?
Last edited by marie73; 10-12-2017 at 05:41 PM.
Reason: video removed, too large and unacceptable language