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Hello!
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?
 

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Because Snow and Pepper were so friendly, pawing under the door and through the gate and wanting to escape their safe rooms, I am convinced you made a mistake by keeping them separated more than two days. Separation after a fight that causes injury only needs to be the injured cat being in a safe room, not both cats. Let Pepper have free reign while Snow recuperates in a confined area, which would promote faster healing. When the cats are wrestling in a playful manner (ears straight up, not scratching or biting), it is just a game. I had two cats who did that on a regular basis and it never got violent. As for the food, they may want to eat alone and there could be a dominance issue (dominant cats always eat first). You can feed them in separate rooms and otherwise let them be together.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Orphaned Kitten Relentless Aggression Has Got Me Exhausted

So I have two cats, Pepper the non-orphaned cat for about 5-6 months now, and Snow the orphaned, bottle baby, for about a month now. Pepper is about 10 months now and Snow is about 6 months. I'll try to make this short and concise as possible!
At first, I thought this was normal cat behaviour, that Snow pounces, chases, bites/scratches Pepper but he's been truly relentless and if I let them 'go at it', Pepper becomes a completely different cat. A skittish, fearful kitten who will hide most of the day. He even got bit/scratched by Snow to where I had to treat him medically because he no longer was eating (he got an infection). Since then I've been switching from letting Snow go at Pepper, and basically protecting Pepper from any engagement of play from Snow.
Snow is trying to play with Pepper but since he wasn't socialized by other kittens at an early age, I don't think he understands when to stop. Any time Pepper walks by, uses the litter, licks himself, tries to climb anything, Snow will go into play/hunt mode and will chase Pepper and wrestle with him non-stop even, sometimes even stays motionless and cries for him to stop. Snow even then will still keep going.
I'm exhausted since when I think I'm just being too protective and do play with Snow for 15 minutes before every meal(he will be huffing and puffing, and then still go at Pepper right after play-time) and let them go at it, Pepper gets beaten up and chased to the point I won't even see him (unless it's meal time) because he hides all-day and when I do see him, his tail is down/limp at all times. If I intervene then Snow is fearful of me, I'm angry/annoyed all the time, and he will obviously continue to pursue Pepper if I'm not around.

I don't think it's anything but play aggression since when Snow and Pepper are sleepy they will groom each other and sleep together- this is only possible when I'm constantly punishing Snow for 'playing' with/bullying Pepper.

Am I doomed to being Pepper's protector? Should I let them go at it again till Pepper gets another infection? How can I teach Snow to stop always trying to fight Pepper? Is he too old to be socialized to other cats?
 

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Unfortunately "Snow" missed out on her socialization lessons that she would have learned if she had not been orphaned, and been part of a litter with a momacat. From 5wks to 11-12 wks. is a crucial time when they learn cat manners, when biting is too hard, and learning to control claws when kitties playfight and wrestle, and learn to read cats body language and sounds and what they mean. If kitty bites momacat too hard, she will bop him on the top of his head and often lick him afterwards or just walk away somewhere. So it's unfortunate for Snow, because it is virtually impossible to teach him these lessons now. He may mellow out as he matures, but it will be likely in his second year and even then may continue to bite. This is quite common with bottle-fed babies, and really they can cause another cat a lot of misery and stress for the owner as you're experiencing now. So for the time being you are Pepper's protector, because you don't want him to get another infection. Really, for these types of kittens, a home without other cats is better, some do well with dogs as companions, or being the only cat. All the best.
 
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