I think you did great there.I had taken the weekend off from any face-to-face visits, but let them have two visits today since their gate playing was going well. The first one was interesting - Freddie came into her space and then immediately mounted her. It was very slow motion almost, and she totally submitted to him for a moment. I also noticed that at one point he released his bite on her neck, and started licking her head? Then she escaped under the bed, came out again, and hissed at him from her cat tree before I ended the meeting. She had her ears back and things felt tense so I felt it might be best to end it there. What was cool to see though, was that she took a "higher" stance than him on her cat tree.
And yes, great to see that Baguette decided to take the 'higher ground' this time.
As long as they both always have...'escape routes'...be they higher up on chairs, boxes, side tables...or like you mentioned before...through tunnels (though that tunnel sounds fun...like the perfect ambush site.)...and under furniture, too,...then it should be okay...when they are playing fast and rough.
When one cat lets the other escape...that is good to see.
Very fast..their speed is amazing...but awesome to get a glimpse of.
(I don't actually allow my male cat to mount my female cat..., even though mine were both neutered and spayed at 5.5 months, Tripp did mount Tepaul, and bite her on the neck...probably at age two...and then again at age three or four...and so I would just grab a towel, cover him with it, and take him off.
Even if it's a dominance game, or instinct, Tepaul did not like it.)
(I do tend to 'referee' in instances like this...since I think that it will just lead to more annoyance, and possible fighting, biting, and loud vocalizations by Tepaul.
Granted, I don't 'referee all the time'...because that would be impossible...so yes, there are also times when they have gotten into more loud tussles and runs...where I didn't even see what happened.)
(Strangely, though, my two cats also had this weird type of 'grabbing by the bottom of the neck'...where they would mutually bite each other, ...and then also lick, lick, lick...near the jugular neck area.
The reason I say it looks weird to me...is because I cannot figure out if one cat is trying to be 'dominant' over the other cat...by the biting, holding, and then licking...to get their own saliva scent all over the other...or are they doing some sort of mutual grooming.
It also looks like a 'practice to kill the prey by the neck bite'...and they have both done it to each other...so it leaves me thinking..."hmm".)
(To me, ...it just looks like a dominance display...but I really don't know.)
Tepaul, has always been more of the 'lick and groom'...but sometimes she looks to be a little bit too insistent about it...so I also separate her from Tripp...if she is biting and holding his neck area, and then licking it...a little too long.
I have to treat both fairly...and don't want Tripp thinking...that everything Tepaul does is okay, either.)
I agree with Xena44...you really have a great handle on how your cats are doing,...and really good instincts.Second meeting I invited her into the living room, then brought Freddie in from the bathroom where I had temporarily put him. He was pretty good and left her alone for the most part. She ended up hiding under the couch as usual, and growled at any attempts Freddie made to play with her. He bopped her a few times trying to engage in play, but she was totally not having it. She got very stiff and her body didn't move a muscle, except for her eyes which darted around to follow his movements. Even when he was busy playing with a toy, she didn't budge or relax from her "ready" state. Freddie was being mostly very good and I just ended the meeting after a while when it didn't seem like she was going to loosen up at all.
Ending the face to face meetings...before anything majorly aggressive happens....is always better...because it builds a solid foundation for the next meeting.
You're building up their Trust..in one another...by ending ...on a Positive.
That is an excellent question...about allowing them longer interactions.She's very submissive to him still, but she definitely tells him to back off at times, which he's becoming more receptive to. But overall she still reacts very triggered when face-to-face with him. My biggest question right now is if I should let them having longer interactions, and let her "tell" him off more...? I guess I'm getting good results with all-day gate visuals and short meetings. But I'm starting to feel like they are too short maybe? Just wonder if more time is needed when they are face-to-face to sort stuff out. But I also don't want their relationship to become worsened, if it ends every time in a struggle.
I had to go back and look at how long you were actually at these cat intros...and really...I think it's only going to be 3 weeks...tomorrow,...if you don't count the first week...or if you count the 'behind the gate visuals'...then it might even be less.
Also, because you needed to wait, a while, ..until Baguette's pheromones were different after spaying, too.
But to get back to your question...I honestly think...that the pace that you are going is very helpful...since it allows Baguette and Freddie to constantly adjust to each other.
And allowing Baguette to do it at a slower manner.
The problem of having face to face meetings...that are too long...or that allow one of the cats...to get too annoyed...is the risk...of losing a lot of the progress...or built up 'good feelings'...between the cats.
I still think that Freddie should be on a harness, at these face to face meetings...and if you could control his trying to 'get to her, all the time'...to a point where he doesn't always want to...or where he seems to be able to focus on something else...quickly...then that would be further progress.
It really sounds like Freddie is learning a lot...and also...slowly changing the ways...in which he interacts with Baguette...even if he's learning to be Receptive, and still learning Baguette's cues,...like you had mentioned,...that is such a huge step...in the two cats being able to share their space together...and trust each other.
Freddie being more receptive sounds excellent.
Oh, okay...I think I see what you are saying.I'm curious if in the cat introduction process, is there any point at which my intervention in their interactions could start doing more harm than good? I feel like I tend to end their meetings when I sense tension, or when a tussle happens. But I'm wondering, should I be giving them more opportunity to work things out, even if it seems "scary" to me? For example, should I be creating more opportunity to let Baguette "teach" Freddie her boundaries even if it is a bit messy getting there? I think I also still struggle to read aggressive play from a real fight...which is the original topic of this thread haha I just tend to break up and separate them every time they have a "dust up," but maybe it's not as bad as I think...? I worry about Baguette getting bullied, but maybe I should let it play out a bit more?
You're thinking...that it might be better to use Baguette to "teach" Freddie...of what she likes and does not like.
And that too much human intervention...might not allow the cats to 'work out their relationship' issues.
And that is why you're thinking longer meetings would be better.
To give them more time to play, and interact...and work out their differences.
This is another great question...and I guess it would have different answers...depending on who you ask.
Some might say..."yes, let the cats work out their own issues...since they will have to anyway...and too much human involvement would just be getting in the way."
The problem there, is ...that it might set up the perfect opportunity for an 'actual cat fight'...where both cats didn't have enough time to study each other...and their "play level",..rises dramatically, and very intensely...and goes from playing,... to being hurt, and then fighting...in retaliation...for the 'being hurt' in the first place.
I guess 'aggressive play'...does actually look like a real fight...and can easily become a somewhat hurtful fight.
(But 'aggressive play'...is still totally different than a 'real cat fight'...where the cats are trying to run each other out from their territory. And not let up...until the other one is gone.)
In cat to cat introductions...we also want that 'aggressive play' to lessen and diminish...to a point where both cats understand ...what the other cat wants...and how to respond...to the other cat's actions. (without having to resort to always being on the defensive, or having to constantly be 'on guard', always vigilant, and on high alert, too.)
I don't think that...at this point in time...your interventions could be doing more harm than good.
Since you are trying to lessen each cat's stress levels...to a point where they can easily manage them...and not feel constant on edge.
(If in the future, you were constantly separating them, whenever you noticed a bit of rough play...then yes...that might be confusing to the cats...but that's not what you are doing, right now,...I don't think.)
You're actually just showing both cats...that certain Play is acceptable...and if it's too rough...then it breaks your 'house rules'.
I think your cats will learn to respect that.
**You could try to see where the cats go after a 'dust up'...and if they easily come back quickly from that type of 'meeting'...then you'd know that it was not as bad for them...as it looked.
Allowing them to go to their separate spaces...and then come back, eventually,...will help you to know how each interaction went.
But it's still kind of hard to do this, now,...so early in the cat intros...since they are still adjusting.
I totally agree with Xena44, on this.I think you’re probably reading them better than you think. It’s just stressful anticipating what possibly could happen when wanting to prevent a real fight, so I understand preemptive action. I think you’re doing very well.
I think you are reading both cats extremely well...and it's very hard to do...while you are in the midst of the actual action...and also trying to decide when to end the meetings on a Positive.
If you look back, in this thread, ...on the progress you have already made...then I think it is huge.
(It's probably just hard to notice the progress...because you are in the middle of it.
And mostly, too, because we humans tend to get discouraged by all the negative interactions that happen...and our minds remember those more...than they do all the positive interactions. I have no idea why.)
I really think you and the cats are doing well, too.