We have had a cat for 5 years in my home. It is a male cat adopted from the streets when he was barely 3 weeks old. Recently we introduced a new cat, which is a male Ragdoll that is 9 months old.

We initially do the "getting along ritual" to make these two cats to get along:

  1. Initially kept them in separate rooms, but they could sniff each other
  2. Made them eat together but only sniffing each other; then seeing each other until they eventually got confident enough to be in the same room without hissing etc.

Everything was fine, they even played together without hissing or growling for a week, then the problems started. The main problem is that the ragdoll one is too playful, wants to play all the time and that eventually makes the other cat upset, so the older cat starts biting him harder, until a point the ragdoll cat meows because of the pain. We then proceed to separate each other to avoid further damage to the ragdoll (the ragdoll can't do any harm, their "bites" are so soft you can't even notice sometimes and he never uses his claws).

After a while we try to join them together again, so currently the situation is like this:

  1. If the ragdoll doesn't want to play, there isn't any fight whatsoever, they ignore each other and can even casually touch one another without fighting. They can even sleep as closely as minimum 50 cm apart.
  2. If the ragdoll wants to play most of the time it results in a fight because the ragdoll "surprises" the other cat by hiding and jumping into the older cat. The older cat usually takes this as an offense and bites the ragdoll. The ragdoll thinks he is playing so he plays with him "fighting" too, until the older cat bites him so hard that the ragdoll meows in pain.
  3. After the fight, they are separated in different rooms. After a short while, the older cat starts meowing because he wants to go out, and the ragdoll meows because he wants to play with the other cat (already forgotten the fight).
  4. When we open the door, sometimes they ignore each other, and sometimes the ragdoll starts licking the other cat in the head and in the back like he is giving some affection to him. The older cat most of the time thinks the ragdoll is attacking him again and after a bit of licking (not instantaneously) he bites the ragdoll again. Then we go again to step 3 and repeat.

We already tried to play with the ragdoll to make him not want to play with the other cat, but he eventually wants to play with him (the ragdoll has energy for everybody I guess) and he ignores us to play with the older cat, eventually fighting.

What can we do so these fights won't happen anymore?

  • 1
    My read on what you're describing is that the older cat is asserting his dominance over the younger one - telling him who's the boss - but possibly the younger one is not getting the message(?). Are they both neutered?
    – brhans
    May 31, 2018 at 13:32
  • Yeah they are both neutered. And yeah it is possible that that's what is happening, but I can't understand how the older one can think that he isn't the dominant one, because the other one apart from playing is always nice to the older one.
    – RabidTunes
    May 31, 2018 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Having two very shy sisters, we adopted a third cat. Barely 4 months old and excessively playful. The story is exactly as you describe it. One sister has never been very playful. The other only on occasion. He, however, would play with anything that moved.

He was oblivious to the girls wanting to be left alone. This also manifested in other ways, e.g. where he'd try to sleep next to them and they'd get up and find a new private spot. Rinse, repeat, ...

For us, the problem fixed itself. While he had the energy and agility, the girls were bigger than him, stronger, and could gang up on him. What ended up happening is that if he took it too far, the girls would strongarm him out of the room. And then he'd leave them alone for an hour or two.

After a while, he learned to not force play/cuddle with them. Instead, he now meows and tries to get attention. If he does, he has a playing buddy. If he doesn't, he goes and does something else.

Once in a while, he still takes play fighting too far. The other cat hisses, but he's way too happy to notice. I would end up intervening. After many occurences, he has now learned to assess the situation when I yell his name or clap my hands, and you can see that he figures it out then. He just needs the reminder.

However, if the "victim" cat is either incapable of standing up to the "assaulting" cat (either by size or lack of assertive behavior), you will need to intervene on their behalf.

Use the same pattern of escalation that you use for other cat misbehavior:

  • Call them by their name.
  • Yell their name.
  • Clap your hands.
  • Stand up.
  • Get the spray bottle out.
  • Aim it at them.
  • Spray them.
  • Physically (but calmly) remove the misbehaving cat from the room.

Between every step, give them the choice to listen to you or ignore you. Whenever they ignore you, take the next step. Eventually, they will figure out the pattern and you'll notice that you need to take less steps in order to get them to stop whatever they're doing.

In this case specifically, make sure that you direct your punishment at the "assaulting" cat, not the "victim" cat.

  • It has been a while since I posted this question, but this is basically what I have been doing these days and the playful cat has become less and less playful with the older cat. Thanks anyway! Hope this helps anybody else with the same problem
    – RabidTunes
    Jul 24, 2018 at 15:02

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