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Okay I have some questions. We've had one cat for 2 years now. He's a punk, around 4 years old, likes beating up our smaller (30lb) dog but is still nervous about the larger (85lb) dog. He has a major attitude and is known to be a troublemaker.

So yesterday I brought home a new cat. From my work, the same shelter where I adopted our other cat. The new cat is around 7 months old and also has a punky reputation. My boss was happy to see him go because he was trying to play rough with the elderly cats and they weren't too happy about it. He's a LOVEY cat, loves humans, loves headbutting and purring and cuddling. But cats get hyper, and he likes to wrestle.

So, the introduction between the two cats went way better than we could have hoped. I brought a large cage from work and put Merlin in it. The cats sniffed each other and were sticking their paws through the wire to touch each other. After a while we let Merlin loose and they sniffed each other. Jojo followed Merlin around everywhere, sniffing. The dogs sniffed. Big sniff-fest.

Merlin has adapted amazingly well, sleeping on our couch all day even with the dogs around. (He's never been around dogs before, that we know of). He's eating well. The two cats ate from the same bowl, even though I put out three different dishes. Merlin is friendly towards Jo, Jo is a little hesitant but still really good. There has not been any hissing or growling or aggressive behavior towards each other.

So, then they started playing. Merlin started it. He's used to living with a lot of cats. And he did the same thing he was doing there - lunging on Jojo and wrestling. Jojo didn't freak out, there was again no growling or hissing or catfight sounds. (I've seen cat fights before, they're not pretty.) This was pretty tame, just biting each other, rolling around, seperating. They'd look away from each other, look around, then one would jump on the other. At first it was Merlin doing the jumping, then Jojo started reaching out and tapping Merlin. After a while Jojo was jumping on Merlin.

But after a little bit Jojo was making little mewwllll sounds as he was doing this. They were thunking each other around pretty good. He wasn't growling... just making little "mrrrr" sounds (he's a very talkative cat, he talks constantly to us). His body language was defensive, though - tail swishing, ears half back. Hubby and I broke it up. (Actually the big dog went sliding into it, breaking their attention span completely.)

So I have a few questions. First, do some cats play like that? Really rough? Our two dogs wrestle all the time and VERY rough and vocal, but we know by now that they love it and are playing. I don't know cats as well. Merlin is still a kitten at only 7 months - he's lighter but nearly full height I'd say, but he acts in many ways like a kitten. So I guess the rough wrestling isn't surprizing for a cat of that age.

The other question is how to tell? It took us time to figure out with the dogs when someone was just ticked off. I know it'll take time to figure out with the cats as well, but is there something I should be looking for? I'll be putting Merlin in time-out in his cage when he pushes Jojo too far.

And my third question is - should we let them sort it out as long as they aren't half-killing each other? Again, I don't know as much about cats as I do about dogs. Do they have their own pecking order? Are they trying to figure it out right now? We had figured Jo would be the top cat, but Merlin is a lot more confident than we'd expected.

As an aside, Jo spent 8 months with me at my parent's house. They have two cats. One of them is a very very nervous, skittish cat, and Jo spent all 8 months beating the ^$!! out of that cat. Full out cat fight, ripping fur out, the other cat yowling. So that's what I was afraid of with these two, that Jo would just be a mean bully, but he's not. And the way these two are fighting/playing is very different from what Jojo and my brother's cat were doing.
 

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Actually, I think you've already got it pretty well figured out and you're reading the cats and the situation correctly. If it gets too rough for your comfort, you can take the aggressor cat and put him in a room by himself for a couple hours of timeout to cool down. I wouldn't worry or interfere too much unless one of the cats is clearly getting the worst of it all the time and starts becoming afraid of the other cat. :)
 

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Given the personalities of both cats, I'd say you're lucky that you don't have an all out war with claws unsheathed and fur flying. Did no one at the shelter advise you of cat introduction processes?

A typical introduction involves separating the cats for several days, possibly even weeks....the new one into a bathroom or spare bedroom and the exisiting one given the run of the rest of the house . Allowing them to adjust slowly to the idea of another cat in the house...sniffing under the door, playing footsies, Swapping their scents by rubbing a towel on one then the other and back to the first one. Confining the exisiting cat and giving the new cat run of the house so his scent gets spread around. Opening the door of the room the new cat is in an inch or so and letting them get a glimpse of each other. etc. etc. Google 'cat introduction' for many articles on how to do this.

Since it seemed like things were getting tense I would recommend starting this process now. Cats do have hierarchies, one of the cats will eventually become the more dominant and there will definitely be some skirmishes until that dominance is established, especially with 2 young males. Give them the best chance of establishing the hierarchy with a minimal amount fur flying by going through a formal introduction.

I think JoJo got upset because he also doesn't know what to expect with Merlin....he doesn't trust him and if Merlin was getting rougher than he liked I'm sure it upset him.

I'm sure these guys will still play rough even after they get their dominance issues sorted out, they just sound like that's their personalities. But you can usually tell pretty easily if it's play or real. You were already able to identify the signs of JoJo being upset quite quickly...ears back, defensive posture, tail swishing hard. If it's play...when they jump up, the tail is usually straight up in the air...the I'm Happy to See You position, the vocalization is definitely different etc.

Again, giving that they both have very strong personalities...I would really recommend the formal separation and slow intro process to give this a good chance of working for the long term.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Tim - Thanks. :) Neither one is acting afraid of the other. Actually when they're not play-fighting they're acting quite friendly, hanging out on my desk together, etc.

doodlebug - Thanks for your input. I actually work at the shelter so I'm well aware of the usual introduction process (though at the shelter there are a lot more cats to consider). Merlin was going to stay in the cage for a week or so to let them get used to each other in a non-threatening situation. However it went WAY better than I expected and decided to let him out. And it continued to go very well. I chose this particular cat as a second cat because of their personalities... with the big dog and Jo's attitude I needed a cat who was laid back but able to stand up for himself. Merlin seems to be doing just that. Like I said to Tim, when they're not playing they're very friendly... sleep near each other, eat together, follow me around. They really surprized me with how well they've acclimated to each other. (Currently Jo is asleep in the kitchen, Merlin's asleep on my chair.) I've been swapping scents for two weeks. They're acting very well together, other than the rough play - and even that I'm not certain is even a problem. I was just curious about the rough play and at what point I should call a halt to it and step in. I'll keep an eye on Jo and when he starts getting upset I'll put Merlin away for awhile. Merlin is pretty young and rambunctious and will need to learn the limits.
 

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OK lunarmagic....Thanks for explaining this a bit further. I was concerned because both of the cats sound a lot like my Kobi and I know introducing him to another male with the same personality so quickly would be TROUBLE. You obviously have more experience than I thought. Sorry about that. The time out idea should work fine.
 

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doodlebug - No problems. :D It's hard to give ALL the background in a single post! Both cats can be little brats, but they are also very laid-back kitties too. Very loving cats. I know some cats who are simply very aggressive and territorial with other cats... it's not fun. We're lucky with these two. :)

I took a bunch of pictures earlier... this was before Jo was getting annoyed. As you can see, Merlin is in full out play mood, and Jo was actually reaching out and touching him with his paw. Almost like he's testing the waters. I think he does - or at least will - really enjoy playing with Merlin. Both cats are the kind with high play drive. Previously Jojo would expend all his energy by beating up my dog. :roll: (She enjoys it, don't worry!)



From now on I'll be watching Jo's behavior closer and stepping in when he starts feeling harassed. :) Or send in the dogs. lol

I'm just so happy that for the most part everyone is getting along so well. Merlin fits in so well here! I love having two kitties.
 

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Well. This is interesting. Today I put Merlin in a time-out for a while, then the cats slept all day, and they just both woke up and started interacting again. I turn around and they're rolling around in the middle of the living room together. I watched for a while and when I judged Jo was getting upset I shoo'd Merlin off. (He's a very happy boy, he doesn't hold grudges.) So he goes jaunting off down the hall into the office where my husband is.

I turn around and Jo goes running after him. Another wrestle, then Merlin runs off down the hall, Jo chases with his tail in a crook. Very very obvious "playing" mode for Jo. 8O They were chasing each other (taking turns) around the living room. So maybe Jo wasn't as upset as I thought!
 

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Tink (our older kitty) and Cleo (our new kitten) were the same way. Tink being a bit of a bigger kitty (15lbs) doesnt have the engergy and tires quickly, and Cleo obviously doesnt realize this. Tink will usually tell me or my wife when she has had enough. Gives us this look, staring at us, where I swear I can really hear her sighing and saying "can you please come get cleo, its your turn to baby sit..."

when she does that, a quick shoo to Cleo and she usually gets the message and goes and plays with her toys instead.

It never ceases to amaze me how smart cats are and how they really can understand you... and vice versa, how they know what to do to get a message across to you.
 
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