Two stray kittens from different litters

alicheyyy

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Hi there,

I have one kitten who is almost 3 months old male who was found abandoned at about 4 weeks of age. I have recently got another kitten about 6 weeks old female who was given away by someone who found a litter with a dead mother. (I know it would have been ideal if all kittens could have been kept together to socialise properly but this wasn’t manageable).

So now I have two unsocialised kittens and the older one is “play fighting” with the younger one relentlessly, but also won’t stop when she begins hissing etc. and it turns into aggression. He is fine with eating near her and they don’t hiss or growl if they see each other across room etc. but I’m not sure how to get him to stop running and biting her neck every time she gets on the ground. He won’t just stand around her and be non-aggressive and not attack her unless it’s feeding time, playing under the door or they’re sleeping together on the lounge.

I tried socialising them slowly over a week but it’s been almost 3 weeks and no improvement. Any suggestions would be welcome.
 

ArtNJ

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Normally I'd say don't worry about it and they will work it out. Kittens essentially never have problems in the long run. However, if the younger one is only 9 weeks and the older one is huge for his age, there is some possibility of accidental injury perhaps. I'd have to see a video to opine more definitely. An awful lot of times, first time owners worry about normal rough play, and a video helps us put folks at ease. Just because there is some hissing doesn't mean there is a problem . . . size differences are super common, and its very common for the smaller one to be unsure about play and to hiss and seek to disengage.

Even without a video, you can get a good sense of whether this is a problem by a simple test -- look at how the smaller kitten acts during the rare moments when the older kitten is chilling. Does the smaller kitten still show avoidance? Or can they lay close together? If the smaller kitten is acting like there is no problem when the rough play isn't actually happening, then she is telling you things are ok and you can let them be. If the smaller kitten ever initiates play, that sends you the same message. Its only if she is constantly hiding and acting terrified of the older kitten, even when play isn't going on, that there is a real problem.
 

lucicat

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it sounds like normal kitten play. . .but it's hard to know without seeing them. I adopted a second kitten who was 9w when my first was a couple months older. And I was so afraid when they first started interacting. And it looked so ferocious to me!! Lots of hissing at first and chasing and biting. . .but no one got hurt and the more they were together the more they calmed down. They still chase and bite and wrestle now months later (and the younger now outweighs the older!). but they are also lovely bonded friends. Best thing I did to get the second!! It helped my first become socialized better actually.
 

lucicat

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6 weeks is still really tiny though. So I would only let them be together supervised. the older one prob doesn't know how much bigger and stronger he is than the younger.
 
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alicheyyy

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The older ones ears go very flat as he is "aggressive playing" and if we try to separate them he usually redirects his "aggression" to us. But the younger kitten does tend to try to engage in play with him and tries to go up to him constantly, only avoids him on rare occasion. So reading the above makes me think perhaps it is okay ? I will try to video if that helps.
 
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alicheyyy

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Here’s a video. She hid after I broke up this one.
 

ArtNJ

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That is totally normal looking play. The size difference isn't crazy in the scheme of things. Totally normal if the small one often wants to disengage during play and even hisses a bit. If, as you say, the small one comes right back and sometimes initiates, then yes, all is fine.

Did you have a big brother growing up and ever get a "head noogie" or "indian sunburn"? If so, you probably called for mom. Yet, you weren't actually at risk of being hurt for reals - it was just uncomfortable. Its the same with normal playful cats when there is a size difference -- at times it gets a bit uncomfortable, and the smaller one will get vocal and seek to disengage.

The most you want to do is distract them when the smaller one seems particular miserable. They are friends, and its best to let them play. Even if, just as would be the case with a human 5 and 8 year old, sometimes the play doesn't look so nice!

We get this question all the time. Its hard to watch normal play when there is a size difference as a first time owner. But its good you asked; I definitely like to see a video when the kitten is super young, as here. Having seen it, and gotten more details from you, I'm not worried at all, these guys are already friends.
 
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alicheyyy

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Thank you all so much for clarifying so well. It definitely has helped me understand cat language better haha and has put my mind at ease. I really appreciate it!!
 
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