It’s been 2.5 months since we became a two-Mau household. It has gotten better, but not before it got a little worse. The short version: our very territorial 3 year old, female Mau is letting the male Mau kitten lay with her after about 11 weeks of co-habitation. And we’re still not at total acceptance yet. You are in this for the long haul.
The long version:
After 3-4 weeks, we let them roam together in the house. By 5 weeks, I dared to leave them unattended for 30 minutes while I left the apartment. I thought we were making progress, but then on week 6, we found a few injuries on both cats. Solstice had a cut on his face. We then found a scrape beneath his chin. Wintermuse appeared a few hours later with a bad cut on her head near her ear. Later, she was missing a tuft of fur nearby.
My precious babies! Bleeding! I was incredibly concerned. Where did we go wrong? Why weer they wounding each other?! Evelyn assured me it was alright, but I watched them like a hawk the next few days. In retrospect, I think these blood-drawing incidents were a bit of a watershed moment, because it was uphill from there. Perhaps they came to respect each other more. This happened early February, and by March, they were grooming each other. They fight nightly for 15-30 min, once or twice a day, and there have been no more injuries.
Despite these fights, as soon as he was allowed to, at week 2 or 3, Solstice tried to sleep with Wintermuse. She hissed, growled, and bit him. He once just waited her out, as per this iPhone photo, and fell asleep on her as she growled. It was hilarious, but not really progress. Every few days, he would try again. He was so endearingly persistent that it was heart-breaking. He thinks his big sister is the prettiest, coolest cat in the world. He wants to be wherever she is – in her bed, in her hiding places, rubbing against her as she walks. He never gave up trying to lay with her, and in early March, she finally let him.. without being tricked into it.
It started with her grooming him. Allogrooming can be cooperative or a dominance activity. If the licking is followed by biting, it is about dominance. She would always lick in the reverse direction of his fur, too, which is another sign. Then she would bite his ear or his neck. I felt bad for him – it was like she teased him with acceptance, then ripped the rug out from beneath his feet.
But over time, the grooming was really grooming. The biting stopped. He even licked her a little. This photo is from about 11 weeks into their relationship. You could almost believe they are happy. (Though I can tell you Wintermuse often looks resigned.)
Now, while Wintermuse allows him to sleep with her in this pink bed, they will still fight over who gets to sleep on me at night. Sometimes she lets him lay with her. Other times, they will start hissing and growling on top of me while I sleep. In the dark. It is wonderful. Just one of many ways they wake me up every day. Ah, but I love them.
This post makes it sound like everything is Wintermuse’s fault, and I was upset with her in a previous post. She was the aggressor in many cases. That, too, has changed in the past several weeks. Allogrooming is a dominance activity when it is a sublimation of aggression – basically, she knew she would get in trouble for attacking him, so she distracted herself with licking. She was learning.
However, Solstice is still a kitten. She may have started leaving him alone, but he would never leave her alone. He wants to play.
With her tail.
Yes, every time it dangled or whomped in annoyance at his activities, he saw that as an invitation to attack it. She did not like this. Fighting ensued.
There were also times she was just minding her own business, and he decided he! wanted! to play! and would pounce her. For no reason. She is a high-strung cat and did not enjoy it. I just let them fight it out so she can correct his behavior. He is a kitten so he has to just grow out of it. At this point, I thank her for her patience.
I do find Solstice gets ‘over-stimulated’ like a human child. He will start running around like a maniac, yowling, and pouncing on her until we put him in a time-out. I am absolutely certain he enjoys time-outs. He never makes a peep in there, and he comes out completely calm. We have even opened the door to see him sitting on the yonder windowsill, quietly watching the birds. I think he gets so wound-up that he can’t stop himself from moving, but if we remove his stimuli, it gives him the breathing room to slow down and stabilize. Oh, kitty psychology.
I’ll post another update about their personalities shortly. Here’s a sweet photo of Solstice in the meantime. Look at that spotted belly!