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My girlfriend and I have been raising our first cat, Theo since he was 6 weeks old. He is currently 8 months old now. My girlfriend and I work a lot and have to leave Theo home, by himself, most of the day. He is a VERY active cat, and I mean VERY active. I sometimes play with him multiple times a day, each at least 30 minutes long. He will play really hard, sleep, wake up, then want to run around and play again. It is an endless cycle. We even take him on walks to try and calm him down. We decided that we would try and get another cat in hopes that he wouldn’t be so lonely and he could have a sibling to play with.

We got a 5.5 month old kitten at the shelter and she is just the sweetest. Her name is Sylvie, and she is a cuddler who also loves to play. She seems more interested in playing with toys. Theo on the other hand, loves to wrestle. He has always enjoyed playing rough with toys more so than with dangling objects. When we brought her home we didn’t allow them to meet for awhile of course and we slowly got them use to each other.

We have ran into this problem where he wants to play rough all the time with her, and it is hard to tell if she also enjoys it. He follows her around a lot and they seem fine with each other until they play. He grabs her, rolls on top of her, bites her (not very hard I don’t think), and she usually hisses and growls. The hissing and growling isn’t that frequent, but it is definitely noticeable. She runs away sometimes and there is also times where she seems to reciprocate. There is never any blood or loss of fur, but I’m not sure if she enjoys playing with him all that much in that way. He is around 10 lbs. and she is probably around 5 lbs. Theo is a very sweet cat but just can be a bit crazy at times. We think that he just wants to play but doesn’t realize how rough he is being and she isn’t really a fan of playing rough with him. She lived in a shelter all her life and probably doesn’t even know how to play rough. I guess I forgot to mention that Theo has played a lot with my girlfriend’s friend’s small dog that is around the same size as Theo, and they play pretty rough. Do you have any advice on how to get them to play better or will it get better with time?

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What you describe seems more or less the typical difference with male and female cats when it comes to play.

Females tend to prefer playing with smaller objects and solo play, when interacting playfully with other cats it tends to be what you could call playing catch or hide-and-seek.

Males do enjoy those forms of play as well, but they also tend to like wrestling a lot, and this can get quite rough sometimes.

Naturally, this is bound to create conflict from time to time, and will typically look like what you describe, the female being wrestled to the ground and trying to escape, maybe hissing and growling at the male while getting into a defensive position.

What is important here is trying to understand if there is any real conflict brewing, or if it is just play that got out of hand.

A good indication is the behavior of the cats after the situation is resolved.

What you ideally want to see is maybe a short period where the female avoids the male, and when everything calmed down them touching noses when they meet and being relaxed in each others presence.

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  • Correct. I've 2 cats, brother and sister. Sometimes he gets a tad rough, she walks away and a few minutes later they'll be grooming each other or eating together.
    – jwenting
    Mar 18 at 8:39

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