Savannah Cat Chat - THE Place for Savannah Cat Talk

This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Savannah (1yr) is bullying my bengal (5 yr)

They're both male and neutered and mostly they get along very well. They play together and they groom each other. Every evening around 6 they start running around and play fighting, this always escalates to the bengal trying to run away and the savannah follows and keeps trying to play. The savannah is in play stance, ears up, not many sounds, just tackling and batting the bengal. The bengal will be in a very defensive stance, ears back, deep angry growls and hisses.

I've always been told that if there's no damage then just let them work it out, but the bengal has started to get little scabbed bite wounds under his jaw. These are worrying me (especially if they get infected) what should I do to get the savannah to tone it back with the bengal?
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
You didn't say anything about the way your home is equipped for the cats. There should be sufficient vertical space for the cats to get away from each other (cat trees or shelving); the bengal should have a safe place to retreat to (a room of its own) where you can close the door when the savannah doesn't back off.

And if you're home prior to 6 pm when the trouble starts, play with the SV to bleed off some of that pent-up energy so that the focus of the energy is a toy and not the bengal. Feather wands such as DaBird are good to use. You should do that each time you notice that the bengal needs a break but the SV is still being persistent.

And then there's my usual answer for persistent unwanted behavior -- a consultation with Marilyn Krieger, an animal behaviorist (http://thecatcoach.com), who has helped some of our members. If not her, another behaviorist perhaps local to you with the requisite experience and background will be able to offer advice if some of the simpler suggestions I gave are ineffective.
 
You didn't say anything about the way your home is equipped for the cats. There should be sufficient vertical space for the cats to get away from each other (cat trees or shelving); the bengal should have a safe place to retreat to (a room of its own) where you can close the door when the savannah doesn't back off.

And if you're home prior to 6 pm when the trouble starts, play with the SV to bleed off some of that pent-up energy so that the focus of the energy is a toy and not the bengal. Feather wands such as DaBird are good to use. You should do that each time you notice that the bengal needs a break but the SV is still being persistent.

And then there's my usual answer for persistent unwanted behavior -- a consultation with Marilyn Krieger, an animal behaviorist (http://thecatcoach.com), who has helped some of our members. If not her, another behaviorist perhaps local to you with the requisite experience and background will be able to offer advice if some of the simpler suggestions I gave are ineffective.

Thanks WitchyWoman. This is typically what we do. We have a lot of vertical space, two 7ft cat trees and our kitchen has high cabinets where the Bengal hides out. The thing that is tough is that they start off playing, so pulling the savannah away too early just results in the bengal jumping right back into the fray. Then once it goes beyond the bengal's tolerance we'll do our best to play with the savannah in one room and the bengal in another. I was hoping for a way (maybe spray bottle?) to help guide the savannah to understand the bengal's boundaries so that we don't risk the savannah going too far if we aren't there to stop it. Any thoughts on that?
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
I don't think a spray bottle is appropriate... this is a matter of one kitty being more into the play session than the other, but do you want to punish him for playing? I think it would not teach the lesson you are aiming at, the SV is not going to understand why you are squirting him.

I think redirection is what Marilyn would aim for you to be doing here. So the ability to read when there has been enough wrestling and maybe pulling out a cat toy to distract them into playing with that instead.

I agree with WitchyWoman that the more energy you can expend with kitty play the more calm a cat will be at other times...so stepping up their workout with play will be a good tactic. If your SV is food-motivated, if there is a treat he likes, then I'd think clicker training worth considering, this allows you to redirect your cat more effectively too...but boredom can be a factor in this kind of play.

Also watch where these incidents happen... where they happen is there an easy escape route upwards? You mention 2 cat trees and the cabinets in the kitchen...but what about the rest of the house? Looking at it through your cat's eyes might help work out if you need to do some modification to help your Bengal with ways to get up and away when he's had enough wrestling too...

And yes, I think Marilyn is a great resource in these situations!
 

SV Dad

Savannah Super Cat
One of the issues may be a 1 year old Savannah tends to have a lot more energy than a 5 year old Bengal. Maybe a little time out when it gets too rough. My savannahs did slow down after 2 years.
 

SlugMaster

Site Supporter
I had good luck with the Feliway diffusers in a similar situation. I use two of them in my house and they help keep the playing from escalating out of control between the two younger Savannahs.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
It might also help to initiate play time with them with wand toys (or similar) before the Savannah and Bengal start in with their typical routine of playing with each other. This might not only break the habitual cycle, but may wear them down some so that the Savannah doesn't have quite so much energy to burn off once the Bengal is done for the day.

I don't completely disagree with a squirt bottle if used appropriately. I know that the cat behavioralists frown upon negative reinforcement, but that is a part of life whether you are a cat or a human. What is a swat from one cat to the other when it gets annoyed if not negative reinforcement? The Bengal is clearly not being assertive enough when he's had enough, a well timed squirt of the bottle may be able to reinforce his 'message' (growl or hiss) to the Savannah that it's time to quit and find something else to do.
 

Eddies

Eddies a ham!
I had good luck with the Feliway diffusers in a similar situation. I use two of them in my house and they help keep the playing from escalating out of control between the two younger Savannahs.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
Hmmm, Mojo????????? I think I'll try this too! Oh & I use the wand toys with Eddie until HE quits, then we come out of the bedroom to say "Oh hi everybody", Tigger says "Hi" back but Mojo....stomps away with tail straight up.
 

Kristin

Animal Communicator
The Feliway worked wonders for Zeddie when she was at the vets. It kept her calm through her ultrasound, and had pretty much immediate results
 

Eddies

Eddies a ham!
Is one brand better than another? I'm looking at the diffuser; love being able to "schedule" a simple refill....
 
Top