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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:41 pm 
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Bengal Kitten

Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:37 am
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Hello everyone!

I'm looking for some advice on an issue we are having with our two kittens, Zeke and Snowden who are both 11 weeks old.

We got Zeke one week ago at 10 weeks (a little young, I know), but he is in great health, and he's happy, playful, caring, and active. A lack of knowledge on our parts was to let Zeke bite our fingers when playing with us. We realize now this can develop bad behaviors (pouncing on fingers/toes at inappropriate times), we only did this for about 5 days and have since stopped by ignoring him.

After 1 week of having Zeke we made a game-time decision to go back to the breeder and pick up his (now 11 week-old) litter mate Snowden. We figured the introduction process didn't have to be SUPER-gradual since Zeke has only been setting up his home base for 6 days and Snowden is his brother, we thought they would remember each other. The first introduction was a little rough; Zeke was territorial and growled and hissed. We immediately split them up and over the course of the last two days did a more gradual approach. Now, they roam the apartment freely, happily, coexisting amongst each other.

HOWEVER, Zeke and Snowden often play fight (wrestling, chasing, preying, light biting, jumping, etc.) with no hissing or growls. The problem here is that Zeke is the dominant one about 85% of the time. Zeke often takes things too far. For example, we will carefully supervise them while play fighting, this can go on successfully and playfully for about 5 minutes (which is long if you are counting the time!), then eventually Zeke starts to bite too hard, causing Snowden to meow loudly in pain. We sometimes let it go to see if Zeke backs off, however he doesn't, so we resort to startling them and breaking it up, putting Zeke in a time out for a little while until things cool down then reintroducing them. For the record, Snowden always plays nice, never bites or plays to rough, he's always the victim.

My question to you guys is, is this normal? What can we do to facilitate and teach Zeke appropriate behavior? Is Zeke young enough so this can be corrected and how long might it take? Will Snowden eventually get turned off by this and not want to play with Zeke anymore if he keeps hurting him? A big question for us too is: when is it appropriate to leave both of them alone together?

Thanks for all the help!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:29 am 
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Asian Leopard Cat
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Location: Portland Oregon, USA
Some thoughts on this:

1. Playing very rough is the norm.
2. One cat being more dominant is the norm.
3. Biting is part of the game, as long as they are not puncturing skin.
4. Startling them to break it up is a bad idea imo. It's just going to make them scared of you. If you want to break up a play-fight, then just pick one of them off the other. Or put an object between them. No hollering or scolding needed. Don't think that you are going to scold them into different behavior, because it will backfire. And always remember that this is why you got the second kitten... so that they can play really rough and tire each other out.
5. It's not easy to determine exactly when a "fight" should be broken up. You have to learn that by observing your cats. I think you have to start by using your best judgement, and then observe how things go *after* you break it up. Is the less dominant one ready to immediately continue the game? If so, then you needlessly broke it up, and they were in fact having fun (this was usually the case with my bengals). Is the less-dominant one showing fear of the other afterwards and wants to run off and hide? If so, then you know that you actually let it go on too long, and probably need to break it up earlier and keep a closer eye on them next time. If there is anything more than token hissing or growling, then I'd always break it up. That is the cat-to-cat language that they are unhappy. Much more so that squeals.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:11 am 
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Bengal Kitten

Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:37 am
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brianj12 wrote:
Some thoughts on this:

1. Playing very rough is the norm.
2. One cat being more dominant is the norm.
3. Biting is part of the game, as long as they are not puncturing skin.
4. Startling them to break it up is a bad idea imo. It's just going to make them scared of you. If you want to break up a play-fight, then just pick one of them off the other. Or put an object between them. No hollering or scolding needed. Don't think that you are going to scold them into different behavior, because it will backfire. And always remember that this is why you got the second kitten... so that they can play really rough and tire each other out.
5. It's not easy to determine exactly when a "fight" should be broken up. You have to learn that by observing your cats. I think you have to start by using your best judgement, and then observe how things go *after* you break it up. Is the less dominant one ready to immediately continue the game? If so, then you needlessly broke it up, and they were in fact having fun (this was usually the case with my bengals). Is the less-dominant one showing fear of the other afterwards and wants to run off and hide? If so, then you know that you actually let it go on too long, and probably need to break it up earlier and keep a closer eye on them next time. If there is anything more than token hissing or growling, then I'd always break it up. That is the cat-to-cat language that they are unhappy. Much more so that squeals.


The less-dominant one actually does return to the play session fairly quickly, as opposed to running and hiding. During the fight there's no hissing and growling however the less-dominant lets out a shrieking meow-squeal which sounds like he's in pain, and the dominant one doesn't let up. We don't want the less-dominant to develop a constant fear of Zeke. Also we noticed Zeke pounces on Snowden at inappropriate times, like when he's sleeping. I guess we're just confused whether or not Snowden (less-dominant guy) is liking it or not.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:33 am 
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Senior Bengal

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My Oberon frequently attacks the bicolor female in our household in a similar fashion. She is smaller and I too worried that he might hurt her. Some of his moves look like wrestling lunges, and seem to escalate as the play excites him more and more. She meows when he bites too. She eventually leaves when it gets to be too much. And comes back for more, so there must be something in it for both of them.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:20 pm 
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Senior Bengal
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mikeandalissa wrote:
Also we noticed Zeke pounces on Snowden at inappropriate times, like when he's sleeping. I guess we're just confused whether or not Snowden (less-dominant guy) is liking it or not.


When you first bring a kitten into your house, it takes them a bit of time to adjust to your schedule. Zeke has a head start here, so it will take them a little bit to get on the same page with schedules. That's not to say the behaviour will stop, but it will be less of an issue when they are up/down at around the same time.

One thing I know about all cats is that if they don't like something it will be very obvious. They are extremely good at evading things they perceive as a threat and their fight or flight response has no grey area.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:43 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:48 pm
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I agree with the comments already posted, and add one suggestion - the less dominant one may benefit from having places to go up high or hide that they can claim as their own and 'defend'. Such as, a clear spot on a cabinet, a box, an empty spot in a bookcase.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:52 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 2:21 pm
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What you are experiencing is normal kitten behavior. Just know that getting them one week apart, changed their scenario. Brother Zeke had already taken in the smells of the new environment, so Zeke was "strange" to Snowden and no longer a brother, but that should change once Snowden gets the smells of the new environment.

Playing, wrestling, jumping on each other, rolling around together -- all normal play behavior between two cats. Being kittens, they may not know when it's gone too far. I have a 10 year old bengal and a 5 year old domestic short-hair and they will chase each other, romp around, tumble together and I just let them go until one of them cries out. The teeth do come out and the domestic had to have a short due to a bite that I am sure came from my bengal. Always supervise them if you can and do not let it get out of hand. When there is no hissing or growling, it is usually just play and not aggressive fighting.

Hang in there -- kittens do reach adulthood but still will always play fight like siblings.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:51 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat
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Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:00 am
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Location: Portland Oregon, USA
mikeandalissa wrote:
The less-dominant one actually does return to the play session fairly quickly, as opposed to running and hiding. During the fight there's no hissing and growling however the less-dominant lets out a shrieking meow-squeal which sounds like he's in pain, and the dominant one doesn't let up. We don't want the less-dominant to develop a constant fear of Zeke. Also we noticed Zeke pounces on Snowden at inappropriate times, like when he's sleeping. I guess we're just confused whether or not Snowden (less-dominant guy) is liking it or not.


Ok, so that is extremely telling. If that changes, then you know it's gone too far. And there isn't an "inappropriate" time for a kitten-attack. Imo, the thing to do is to reach for a camera when they are doing that, and learn to laugh at it.

One other thing to watch... when they are "wrestling" watch what they are doing with their hind feet. Their hind feet are potentially their most deadly weapons. They can "kick" the other cat off, pretty much any time they want, or use those sharp claws and extremely strong muscles to rake the claws on the other cat's tummy, potentially doing a ton of damage. When cats are just messing around, their front claws are going and they are biting (without really puncturing skin), and it all looks really convincing, but they are actually very gentle with their hind feet.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:53 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:48 pm
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My Bengal mix allowed my tiny calico to bunny kick his stomach as hard as she wanted, and I would always find clots of his fur on the floor. :biggrin:


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:23 pm 
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Asian Leopard Cat

Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 2:21 pm
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Bunny kicking is not good when playing. Their hind legs are really, really strong and could cause serious injury to the other cat.


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