Thoughts on these guys' play?

jahzara

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Few weeks ago I posted a thread about how my one cat hisses, yelps, and growls when his brother tries to play with him.

I suspect it is related to his weight and we have since gotten a SureFeeder for Cobalt (grey tabby) so Rigby (orange tabby) losses some weight and is more pleasant to be tackled by.

I took some video of them playing tonight. Wanted to get people's thoughts on it. (I did a pucker sound at the end to show you can get their attention just fine, so it's not a serious fight I don't think.)

 

rubysmama

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From my "have only ever had one cat at a time" experience, so no experience with cats playing, I'd have to say that is all play. First, they're in the chair, together. And neither gets up and runs off. No loud hissing or growing. One even stops to groom.
So looks like friendly play, to me. :catlove:

Until other members reply, here's a TCS article on the topic, you can maybe checkout:
Are My Cats Fighting Or Playing? – TheCatSite Articles
 

ArtNJ

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Yeah, if that is how they play, I'd completely ignore the occasional growl or hiss. You definitely get noises when there is a size or enthusiasm difference. I've got an 11 and 9 pound cat now, and they enjoy playing a lot. But once in a while when the 11 pounder is really enthused the 9 pounder will make some noises and sometimes disengage early. If a cat seems really and truly miserable, I'd try and distract, but in general if the noises and avoidance behaviors are just at play time and they are totally fine together otherwise, its a pretty clear signal its not a big deal. If the protesting cat will sometimes play with the other cat for quite a while and even initiate sometimes, those are even clearer signs.

Weight management is always a good thing for health reasons, but losing weight might just make the bigger cat more active and playful, perhaps playing even more vigorously, so I'm not sure it would work the way you are hoping. It doesn't strike me as something to do just to try and get more equal play in your situation.
 
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susanm9006

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Total play and fairly gentle at that. And both seem equally into it even though the ginger seemed to be running the show. You notice how he stopped a few times which would have given the grey one plenty of opportunity to run if he wasnt into the game. But he stays because he was having a good time.
 
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jahzara

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That's good to know that you all think it's normal play.

I guess I am just not used to him hissing and growling. He only started this recently.

I am wondering if this didn't have to do with my intervening with their play previously.

Cobalt would get onto Rigby's back and bite his neck. Hard enough that it made Rigby cry. Is that normal??

Obviously, I intervened. But I'm guessing I did it wrong - and now maybe he is afraid to play with Rigby?

How might I encourage him to play with him again? I've been ignoring the hissing and growling. Should I continue to ignore it? Or should I give them praise when they begin play with each other before the hissing and growling set in to let him know that Rigby initiating play is a good thing?* Maybe offer them treats as soon as he starts to initiate but only if he didn't hiss or growl? Or offer treats if he lets Rigby tackle him while in a box or something (he doesn't growl or hiss if there's a semi barrier between them.)

I don't want him to think I am rewarding him hissing and growling either though.

Just trying to figure out how to perhaps correct the situation if I'm the one that caused it while simultaneously working on Rigby's weight.

*As I was typing this up, Rigby tried to initiate play with Cobalt again. I immediately praised Cobalt and called him a good boy before he could hiss.

Cobalt's mouth was in the process of opening to hiss. He stopped mid opening of mouth (in fact, kept his mouth open oddly) and didn't hiss. He was listening to me and thinking things over. Interesting.
 

ArtNJ

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Biting the back of the neck "hard enough that it made" the other cat cry -- this is pretty common. You won't find wounds, and in fact, the scruff of the neck that allows a mother cat to pick up a kitten without hurting it doesn't go away with adult cats, meaning its unlikely the bite actually hurts much, if at all. So I think a cat cries to say "get off me you *&^%!" when for whatever reason they don't want to play and fight off the biter. Just a protest noise in other words, and a mild protest at that.

Its not your job to micromanage play, and you really can't. For the most part, cats need to work that stuff out. You can distract if a cat seems miserable sure, but thinking that you need to do that, or that you need to be the one to help them play better, is for the most part wrong.
 
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jahzara

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Good to know on the neck biting thing.

My concern at this point is if my interfering was actually what caused this problem, then perhaps I need to go back to the basics similar to introducing a new kitten into the household - you provide treats during the meet and greet and praise them for positive interactions.

I can just continue ignoring too and let them work it out. But again, if its me that did this, his issue isn't with the other cat, his issue is with how -I- am going to react.
 

ArtNJ

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I think you are worrying too much. Cat relationships change quite often, sometimes for reasons we'll never know. No reason to think you did it. I don't see how you even could of. Certainly, if you had cats where at least one was already very nervous of the other, and you really stormed in with noise and excess whenever they interacted out of some misguided desire to help by squelching what you perceived as bullying (sometimes people mistake rough play for that) you could make things worse by adding to the stress. But this isn't like that -- one cat is just protesting a larger cat being a bit excessive (at least in that cat's view) in play. I don't see how anything you did could have influence on that. The most likely and totally routine explanation is that the smaller cat got a bit older and less interested in rough play and is now expressing that. As has already been pointed out, they are still mutually playing to a degree, so this all seems very mild and normal.
 
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jahzara

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Alright. Thank you.

This two cat mom life is still teaching me new things all the time. This is the first pair of cats I've owned (I had two cats solo prior to this) and so it has all been new to me.

Even with having them since kittens for nearly 6 years, I guess you still can learn new things!
 

Caspers Human

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It's just cat rasslin'. :D

It might look like Rigby has Cobalt pinned but I think Cobalt is a "bottom fighter" who gets down so he can attack from underneath. If he wanted to, he could have escaped several times.

Yes, cats often growl or hiss when they wrestle. Cats can't talk. If they could, it would probably sound like a couple of children bantering back and forth as they wrestled around on the floor.

Let 'em play! It looks like they are having fun. :)
 
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jahzara

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Thanks for the extra reassurance- it’s helpful and appreciated.

it makes sense that they would make noise like children do. It was just new so I thought he was being serious. But rewatching the video, I see him go in for a head grab which he prob wouldn’t do if he didn’t enjoy the play.
He initiated play yesterday as well and Rigby ran off to the dining chairs which is his “base.” Cobalt walked away with floofy tail. Lol
 

Caspers Human

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In human terms, Cobalt would have said, "Let's go!" but Rigby said, "No way, Jose!"
Then Cobalt walked away and said, "No fun!"

;)
 
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jahzara

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Hah!

Well they played together for about an hour today. No growling or hissing either. Was like the play I am used to seeing from them. Sooo I dunno, cats are weird. :dunno:
 

Caspers Human

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Something I learned is to think of your cats the way you might think of a three year old child.

When I do that, a lot of cat behaviors that seemed puzzling, at first, suddenly become clear to me. ;)
 
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