HELP! My one cat will not let my other cat play.

WriteAnotherWoods

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My wife and I have two cats, Shanti and Momo. The issue takes place with Momo. They are six months apart in age, with Momo being the younger, but both are over the one year mark.

Recently, Momo has developed this habit of taking any toys Shanti is playing with from her so she can't play. If Shanti so much as tries to play, Momo comes barrelling in and stops her. It doesn't matter what toy it is, and has even extended to chase toys now (like laser pointers). We can't even try taking Shanti aside to play with her as Momo will come running. If we close a door, Momo will start scratching at the door and yowling, causing Shanti too much stress to play.

As a result, Shanti is now extremely stressed. She's developed anxiety about even trying to play because the moment she does, Momo stops her. She won't engage with any toy now, and has become destructive because she has no outlet for her energy. She's such a gentled natured cat too, so she won't fight for her right to play. Worse, the stress has caused her to start losing her fur and it's affecting her eating and sleeping schedule.

We don't know what to do. Please, help.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Any changes occur around the time Momo started taking Shanti's toys from her? Did they play together before that, and/or share toys?

Usually, when a new behavior starts, there is something that has gone on to provoke/prompt it. It is usually better to try to find the source of the behavioral change and rectify that as opposed to trying to the change the behavior itself. I liken it to taking meds to relieve symptoms of an illness instead of trying to resolve the illness. (Not the best analogy, but hopefully you see what I mean.)
 
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WriteAnotherWoods

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Hi. Any changes occur around the time Momo started taking Shanti's toys from her? Did they play together before that, and/or share toys?

Usually, when a new behavior starts, there is something that has gone on to provoke/prompt it. It is usually better to try to find the source of the behavioral change and rectify that as opposed to trying to the change the behavior itself. I liken it to taking meds to relieve symptoms of an illness instead of trying to resolve the illness. (Not the best analogy, but hopefully you see what I mean.)
They never played with toys together before, no. But Momo never really got in the way of Shanti's play, either. They sort of did their own thing when they were playing. It's only been recently that Momo's exhibited this behaviour. The part that's frustrating is that Momo is always playing with something, but she'll stop playing with whatever she's playing with the second she see's Shanti playing. Like, she deliberately stops Shanti from playing every time.
 

FeebysOwner

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Have long have you had these cats? Could Momo be trying to engage in play with Shanti and just doesn't know how? Maybe her approach is just scaring Shanti? Have you tried to intervene when this happens and get them both to play with any of the toys? It might be that Momo is 'entertainment-deprived', then sees Shanti enjoying a toy, and wants that enjoyment for herself? (Grass is greener on the other side...)

The other thing that comes to mind is to buy another identical toy for the ones Shanti likes best, rub both their scents on them (I assume the 'original' toy(s) have both their scents on them already), and when Momo tries to steal the toy Shanti is playing with give Momo the duplicate. Repeat a thousand times a day if necessary. And, since there are two of you, each of you trade off playing with each cat with those same toys. If Momo takes the toy from Shanti, give it back to Shanti and take the duplicate toy and play with Momo. Shanti needs to feel like someone 'has her back' to help build back her confidence, and Momo needs some help with being distracted away from what Shanti is doing.

I am still saying something has changed in their environments around the time Momo started this, and trying to determine what that might have been would be really helpful in getting things back to where they were before. Maybe something in one of these TCS articles might ring a bell, or at least give you some things to try.

Bored Cat? What Cat Owners Need To Know (including 10 Actionable Tips) – TheCatSite Articles
Do Cats Get Jealous? (and What To Do About It When They Do) – TheCatSite Articles
 
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