Fergus the kitten may look relaxed in this photo. But don't let the droopy arm and glazed eyes fool you. This is a kitten with a plan. He's just napping now so he'll have the energy he needs to do what he thinks is "play," and what his animal roommates think is "annoying."
Bottle baby kittens like Fergus didn't get key socialization time with mom, and that means they can be very rough players. These are the kittens that chase on, jump on, gnaw on and otherwise terrorize the pets they live with. And these are the kittens that persist in the attacks, despite the kind attempts of their roommates to teach them otherwise.
Consider Maggie the 12yo kitty here. She likes a good game of play as much as the next cat. But, she likes to walk away with dignity when she is done playing. Fergus takes her turned-away body as an invitation to play yet harder, and he swats and bites at her as she moves away. She turns, hisses and swats with her claws in, but this doesn't deter him. He thinks this is part of the game.
Her plan: Avoidance. She'll play with him as long as he is nice. But if he's mean to her in some way, the game is over immediately. Since he lives to play, this is feedback he can use. If he'd like the game to keep going, he'll need to learn to be a little nicer. Maggie is a great instructor of that lesson.
Popoki is decidedly grumpy about these kitten shenanigans, but she handles things in a slightly different way. She has no front claws, so she cannot hit. But she is a mighty big cat with a lot of weight to throw around. If Fergus upsets her, she chases him, tackles him and sits on him until he screams.
These episodes can seem a little scary, but honestly, Popoki and Fergus have a good relationship. She is providing him with the strict feedback that Maggie is too timid to provide. And Popoki's coaching will help Fergus to grow into a respectful cat that knows that some cats simply don't mess around.
Sinead is a similarly excellent coach. She likes to play rough, and she does play rough with Fergus. But she doles out fairly significant corrections if he wakes her up when she is sleeping or if he bites her little legs too hard. Those corrections involve snarling, mock-biting and body slams. They are hard to miss. And if he takes the hint, she will continue the play.
Even with the help of Popoki and Sinead, Fergus has a ways to go. And that means the other animals in this house have to be ever-so-slightly on guard. They all like to know where Fergus is at all times, and they tend to position themselves like Liam here, so they can see the little guy if he chooses to sneak up on them.
I'm thankful for all of my pets as we work to raise Fergus together. They all bring something a little different to the table, and the work they do will help this little motherless guy to become the fabulous cat I just know he can be. I just hope they all stay patient with him. I know it's hard!
Any kitten advice you'd like to share with my crew? Hit me up in the comments.
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