Male cat being rough with new female cat. Please help me!

bluesmelvit

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Hi all,
I apologize for the long post (people on reddit recommended I come here!).

We adopted a new cat for our resident male cat (Walter, 8 months old).He is very sweet, social, and playful- he can get rough sometimes but never aggressive.

We adopted the 1 year old female cat (Phoebe). She is very cuddly- like Wally, but I've found that she is actually a lot more calm/ sedentary. When we brought her home he saw her before we could put her in a separate room, there was no hissing from either of them. Once we put the new cat Phoebe in her separate room Wally came to sniff the door.

I got excited because Phoebe was rubbing up against the door and very curious, Wally was also curious (still no hissing).

The second step we took was to put Wally in his bed/carrier with the door slightly open so he didn't feel trapped ( we incorporated lots of treats). I was so excited because there was no hissing, growling, or upright hair. Wally did stick his paw out to tap her but it seemed more curious than scared. The new cat rubbed up against the carrier.

After the separation and scent introduction my fiance and I held each cat in our lap and let them smell/lick each other. Phoebe was purring and Wally was licking her/ nibbling? He did tap her with his paw, no nails, and to me it seemed playful.

We let them roam on our laps and he gripped her neck with his paw and bit under her neck, which seemed sort of rough to me.(no upright hair, ears normal, no hissing or growling) The second time he did this was a little more rough and made me worried. She gave a little hiss and I separated him.

Today I tried by myself and brought both of them onto the bed, giving them treats when they laid close to each other. Wally seems like he wants to play. Phoebe purrs when around him, which is good- there was no hissing.

Wally still is being too rough and will bite her neck/ under her neck and then roughly groom her head. she didn't hiss but did let out a sad little meow while swatting at him- no nails. He stares at her like one of his toys, which worries me- it seems like he wants to pounce. When they settled and got comfortable with each other I played with Wally- Phoebe wanted to join so I let it happen. This was their first time sharing a floor space together, at first they just walked a little and then Wally pounced, bit her neck, she hissed at him and swatted. There was growling from her too.

After being separated and put in her own room it seemed like she really wanted to get out to him, now when I put them together I hold her in my lap. Wally groomed her head but still seems like he wants to pounce. She is very sweet and accepting despite the little spat they had. I have no idea what to do, she wants to be friends with him but he is so rough, i'm scared he'll hurt her!

Someone said they could be playing but Wally biting under her neck really worries me. They're both good cats- I've already fallen in love with phoebe and would hate for this to not work out. I don't think he knows how to play gently.

What can I do, does this sound okay? Am I being over dramatic? What is my next step?
 
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bluesmelvit

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I forgot to mention the intro happened a little fast (all within a week). We are in a one bedroom apartment until may. I feel guilty for it being fast but Phoebe wanted out of the room and Walter seemed ready too.
 

ArtNJ

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Sounds good actually. They like each other. Doesn't mean one won't play rough enough to annoy the other one at times, but it is just that, annoyance at times. Its super common for one cat to be a little bigger or a little more active and for play to not be equal. And that is fine. If it is a serious issue, the girl will avoid the boy at all times, not just maybe run from playing. Even a little hissing or squealing is no big deal if its only during play. They will work it out, and in time play will become more equal. If the girl cat has wounds, is hiding generally, seems really badly stressed outside of play, all of those change the picture. But your picture sounds good!

As far as biting the neck goes, remember, cats are predators, and like all predators the young play by simulating hunting behaviors. Stalking, pouncing, the classic defensive position (on the back, all claws available to rake) and biting the neck are all hunting or defense behaviors, and all a normal part of play.

Now I'm not there, one week isn't long, and we do want to make sure these cats do not actually fight, which really screws up progress in accepting each other badly. But if that was a risk, we would almost certainly be hearing a lot of hissing and growling, plus other signs. So so far I'm not suspecting anything other than unequal play.
 
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bluesmelvit

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Sounds good actually. They like each other. Doesn't mean one won't play rough enough to annoy the other one at times, but it is just that, annoyance at times. Its super common for one cat to be a little bigger or a little more active and for play to not be equal. And that is fine. If it is a serious issue, the girl will avoid the boy at all times, not just maybe run from playing. Even a little hissing or squealing is no big deal if its only during play. They will work it out, and in time play will become more equal. If the girl cat has wounds, is hiding generally, seems really badly stressed outside of play, all of those change the picture. But your picture sounds good!

As far as biting the neck goes, remember, cats are predators, and like all predators the young play by simulating hunting behaviors. Stalking, pouncing, the classic defensive position (on the back, all claws available to rake) and biting the neck are all hunting or defense behaviors, and all a normal part of play.

Now I'm not there, one week isn't long, and we do want to make sure these cats do not actually fight, which really screws up progress in accepting each other badly. But if that was a risk, we would almost certainly be hearing a lot of hissing and growling, plus other signs. So so far I'm not suspecting anything other than unequal play.
Thank you so much! There was hissing and growling coming from Phoebe (the new cat) when Walter (resident cat) pounced on her and nipped her a little too hard. I'm not losing hope, since she try's to get out of my lap to get close to him, she rolls onto her back so I thinks shes trying to tell him she's not a threat!
 

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The only time that I step into any of my cat's scuttles is when a younger cat is harassing my 18 year old female. She is not in the best of health, and being old and frail, they could really hurt her.

Your two kitties are roughly the same size and age- they will work it out. And don't underestimate your female because I would wager that she can more than hold her own. Just keep a watchful eye from afar.
 

ArtNJ

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A little hissing and growling is nothing by itself. If she doesn't appear to want to fight, the noises just means "get away" + that she isn't ready to trust and play yet. No problem; they can work through that. I'd let them do their thing. Just watch, and if it looks like they are actually fighting and you hear screaming, spitting or howling, intervene. By contrast, a little yelp is a common noise when one cat is playing a little rougher than the other likes and not a big deal.
 
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bluesmelvit

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A little hissing and growling is nothing by itself. If she doesn't appear to want to fight, the noises just means "get away" + that she isn't ready to trust and play yet. No problem; they can work through that. I'd let them do their thing. Just watch, and if it looks like they are actually fighting and you hear screaming, spitting or howling, intervene. By contrast, a little yelp is a common noise when one cat is playing a little rougher than the other likes and not a big deal.
Thank you for the help! Her ears go back quite a bit and she doesn't react, despite her being scared do I just let things happen?
 
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bluesmelvit

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The only time that I step into any of my cat's scuttles is when a younger cat is harassing my 18 year old female. She is not in the best of health, and being old and frail, they could really hurt her.

Your two kitties are roughly the same size and age- they will work it out. And don't underestimate your female because I would wager that she can more than hold her own. Just keep a watchful eye from afar.
This is very helpful thank you, I think I'm being dramatic. Shes a bit smaller than him- despite her being older. She's so sweet that I assumed she's helpless lol
 

ArtNJ

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Thank you for the help! Her ears go back quite a bit and she doesn't react, despite her being scared do I just let things happen?
Yeah, being a little scared is normal. Sometimes both are a little scared of each other. Even if you had a house and did a 3 week introduction process, it would be normal for them to have some work to do at the end. If nothing bad happens (a true fight with true pain) then the scared dies down. The boy playing a little too rough isn't enough to derail that. Might take a little longer than if he was gentle, but its perfectly normal for one to be ready and one not, one to be bigger, more aggressive, more playful, whatever. Its nice when they are both ready and equally matched, and yours may get there, maybe even soon, but this is a normal stage. Since it hasn't been very long, continue to supervise together time and watch for more concerning situations to develop - its still possible - but I bet they can work this out.
 

jen

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As long as they are both fixed this is normal and ok. Hissing and growling are how they communicate. Let them do that and work it out. If you intervene too much they will never figure things out.
 
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bluesmelvit

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As long as they are both fixed this is normal and ok. Hissing and growling are how they communicate. Let them do that and work it out. If you intervene too much they will never figure things out.
Thank you, I get worried because although she hisses when he plays rough, he doesn't seem to learn!
 

jen

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He is being an annoying little brother. He will get it eventually. She will be rougher if she has to so he learns.
 
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bluesmelvit

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He is being an annoying little brother. He will get it eventually. She will be rougher if she has to so he learns.
He's quite a bit heavier than her, does the size difference matter? I'm sorry for all the questions I just want to make sure i'm doing it right! Everyone has been so helpful. We made progress today, I put them together when they were sleepy and they ended up cuddling (I gave them the nudge by putting them close lol). He also groomed her!
 

ArtNJ

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He's quite a bit heavier than her, does the size difference matter? I'm sorry for all the questions I just want to make sure i'm doing it right! Everyone has been so helpful. We made progress today, I put them together when they were sleepy and they ended up cuddling (I gave them the nudge by putting them close lol). He also groomed her!
Size definitely matters sometimes, but it more affects the smaller kitties perspective than creates any risk of injury. My most recent kitten and 4 year old went at it from the get go, and that was like a 6 to 1 size difference for a while -- even now the difference is almost as big as the difference you have, and they continue to throw down ignoring the differences. Other times, with a less confident small cat, the smaller kitty might find it a bigger deal and be reluctant to play. Anyway, you'll have to see how it goes but it sounds like its going great.
 

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I agree with the others.

There will come a time when one cat will push the other cat just a little bit beyond their comfort limit and will make it clear that they are not happy. There will be some scuffling and, maybe, some fur will fly for a moment or two.

You, kind of, need to let this happen. It's cat politics. It's the way cats tell each other what's acceptable and what isn't. This is how cats set the ground rules among themselves. It's normal.

You should stand by and keep an eye out in case the cats start to hurt each other. If that happens, you can separate them and send each to their own safe area until they calm down. But you shouldn't do anything unless it becomes frequent, prolonged or violent. If you intervene too quickly, you will interrupt the negotiation process between the two cats and it will be harder for them to come to terms.

Bottom line: Just keep doing what you've been doing. Keep supervising them but let them get to know each other. They should eventually learn to be friends. :)
 
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bluesmelvit

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I agree with the others.

There will come a time when one cat will push the other cat just a little bit beyond their comfort limit and will make it clear that they are not happy. There will be some scuffling and, maybe, some fur will fly for a moment or two.

You, kind of, need to let this happen. It's cat politics. It's the way cats tell each other what's acceptable and what isn't. This is how cats set the ground rules among themselves. It's normal.

You should stand by and keep an eye out in case the cats start to hurt each other. If that happens, you can separate them and send each to their own safe area until they calm down. But you shouldn't do anything unless it becomes frequent, prolonged or violent. If you intervene too quickly, you will interrupt the negotiation process between the two cats and it will be harder for them to come to terms.

Bottom line: Just keep doing what you've been doing. Keep supervising them but let them get to know each other. They should eventually learn to be friends. :)
I really appreciate the input, it puts my mind at ease. I'll let them have more floor time together. They get into spats when hes too rough- she hisses and growls but he still seems playful. From what people have told me its fine because she still lets herself be around him! She's very tolerant too, sometimes she'll just lay still as he try's to play.
 
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bluesmelvit

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Size definitely matters sometimes, but it more affects the smaller kitties perspective than creates any risk of injury. My most recent kitten and 4 year old went at it from the get go, and that was like a 6 to 1 size difference for a while -- even now the difference is almost as big as the difference you have, and they continue to throw down ignoring the differences. Other times, with a less confident small cat, the smaller kitty might find it a bigger deal and be reluctant to play. Anyway, you'll have to see how it goes but it sounds like its going great.
Thanks again, I know I have WAY too many questions but I want to be sure to give these two cats the best life/environment possible!
 

ellejay

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Walter sounds like a dream. We've got a Ted Bundy here. We just introduced a new small female to our resident male. Followed all of the rules of a slow introduction. They finally met and he stares at her like a toy. Pounces, bites, pins her down. She screams. Its horrific. They're both fixed. It is so bad we may not even be able to keep the new girl for safety.
 
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