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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Questions about growling kitten

Hi

I have a 9 month old female kitten who is a "growler". She's very possessive of toys. Once she gets a hold of something she'll growl if one of her siblings comes too close.

I've never had a cat that has done this. Is it common? I'm not sure if this is behavior that I should try to curb in some way. Is there any way to try and get her to relax and not do this or do I just have to accept that she seems to be part Rottweiler?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 10:07 AM
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I assume others more knowledgeable about this specific trait will chime in, but my own sense is that this is normal for some cats. Both Hersh and Little Hersh are growlers when it comes to certain food items--with Hershey it is hamburger rolls and other food items he steals from me; with Little Hersh, it is his own food dish, plus certain kitty treats I give him. With toys, if Hersh is carrying around a rubber ball, it is his and his alone. When Snowball plays bathtub soccer with a ping pong ball, no other cat can get near it. But as soon as she's done, it's fair game. Otherwise, no one cares to be too possessive.

I think being possessive of "their" toys is a normal cat reaction. What I would try to do is play with her with that toy, then, with her in sight, play with other kittens in turn with it. Over time their scents, as well as hers, should get on those toys that she considers hers. A communal smell on the toys may help to a degree. But I would not expect the behavior to go away. Some cats bat at others, some growl, at intrusions on "their" turf or toys, but it should be brief. So long as it does not escalate, it's ok.


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Last edited by NRD; 03-10-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply NRD.

I guess I was just never around a cat who did this. As I said, the weird thing to me is that she does this around her 3 littermates (1 male, 2 females).

The first time I tried to play with them with a string-type toy she grabbed it, hunched down, and growled... which stopped her littermates and me in our tracks. We all froze and just stared at her with the same surprised look.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 12:26 PM
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I've always found kitties that do this are most often confident and dominant kitties. One time I was spending time in selecting a kitten and one white male in the litter was very dominant and growling over a toy he didn't want to share with his littermates. His white sister kept coming and getting in my lap, and although I didn't want white (prefer colors), as a former breeder I knew that the best bond is always with a kitten that selects you. The white boy kept coming in my lap too, but I didn't want a dominant male because at the time I had an elderly 16 y.o. cat and wanted one that would respect her. It worked out well.

Growling is normal and instinctive, and some cats do it more than others, usually for something they value highly and don't want to share. I'd just let your girl kitty be and let her have her toy. She doesn't have to share.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 12:36 PM
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I think we should disagree with dominant behavior. I don't allow any of my animals to display aggressive or dominant behavior toward me, other people, or other animals.

It may be an instinctual behavior, like a child who is possessive, but I am not going to condone it.

I would snap them out of it with a noise of some sort, then take the toy and make it mine. I've had to stop my cats from a few dominant displays. Since they came to me as adult rescues, some of the behaviors had probably been practiced for years. Now they respect me and each other.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 12:49 PM
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I can't see anything wrong with a kitty being dominant over a toy. And there's always a certain amount of rough and tumble playing or playfighting. In those cases I ignore hissing or swatting. I would only intervene in dominant behavior if it was so bad that a cat was fighting with it's claws out and biting hard to draw blood or puncture the skin or bullying another cat to the point of it peeing in fright. I know when cats are playfighting, and when it's time to step in and referee. The cats know too, and usually all I have to do is say "Enough!" or clap my hands, and they stop .
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catloverami View Post
I can't see anything wrong with a kitty being dominant over a toy. And there's always a certain amount of rough and tumble playing or playfighting. In those cases I ignore hissing or swatting. I would only intervene in dominant behavior if it was so bad that a cat was fighting with it's claws out and biting hard to draw blood or puncture the skin or bullying another cat to the point of it peeing in fright. I know when cats are playfighting, and when it's time to step in and referee. The cats know too, and usually all I have to do is say "Enough!" or clap my hands, and they stop .
Not to hijack this thread, catloverami, but since you have raised the exact point I was thinking of asking about in a post, may I ask you now? Hershey taught Blizzy how to wrestle, when B was smaller than Hersh, and Hersh also taught Little Hersh how to wrestle. Now Blizzy is the same size as Hersh, and when he comes over to wrestle with him, Hersh shrieks, sometimes at the top of his lungs, and runs away. I've watched, and BLizzy is not hurting him or drawing blood at those moments Sometimes Hersh still initiates play with Blizzy, but when Blizzy reacts as he should, Hersh then runs away, to the point of hiding in the closet a few times with Blizzy in pursuit. Could it be that Blizzy's claws are too sharp? Hersh vocalizes when Little Hersh wrestles with him, too, but it is much less of a shriek. I have actually broken it up a couple of times between Blizzy and Hersh, because the shrieking got to loud and I didn't like that Hersh was running away and not initiating in return. I should add that on occasion they start out silently wrestling, which is a good thing, but it then ends up with the shrieking and Hersh running away.

They are friends otherwise. Hersh is about 2-1/2, Blizzy about 1-1/2, both neutered. Any thoughts?

My own reaction is that Hersh prefers to wrestle when he is more in "control" and that he doesn't like that Blizzy is as strong as he is (they both weigh about 10-1/4 pounds). But I just don't know.


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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 01:40 PM
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When we just adopted Major, he did the growling with food. Nobody could get close to his food. We just let him be, and it stopped after a while.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 01:59 PM
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Nito does that. Both with toys and with treats. I don't see anything wrong with it, and I don't discourage it because it never follows through with aggression. It's just a way he expresses himself, and a way to get greedy scavengers away from his bowl so he can take his sweet time enjoying and savoring his meal!

See Nito in action for yourself! (Ugh, and I KNOW that my bra is on the ground, I have a serious problem of doing that with my videos.)

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 02:18 PM
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It's always a delicate balance of when is fighting or play fighting too much? Is one cat really screech-bluffing or really in pain or fright? It's by keen observation and knowing your cats well most of the time. I have a similar situation. Alkee (spay) came a few months before her half-brother Zuba. For a year she was dominant over Zuba, but by 2 yrs. she was smaller and lighter by 2+ lbs. and Zuba started to try to be more aggressive in trying to topple the queen from her throne. Alkee didn't like this, especially being bowled over because he is stronger and heavier. So there was lot of hissing and growling and swatting on Alkee's part as Zuba was not backing off. When things got too much for me, I would intervene and break up the playfighting. An animal communicator did a reading on Alkee and she said Alkee didn't like me breaking up the fights. That it made her look weak in Zuba's eyes. So I followed her advice and only intervened if things were going really bad as I stated in my previous post. So I backed off interfering. What happened was that Alkee started standing up for herself, and often she would "get back" at Zuba by being the stalker and bully herself. He always would give up easily and lie on his side, with no growling or hissing (he's never done it). If Zuba was in one of his super-aggressive moods, Alkee would actually jump up beside me, and Zuba never went after her there. So now they're both 6 y.o. and altho they have their regular play fights, I've not yet had to intervene. They work it out themselves.

So you're question is.....? what to do about the playfighting? First of all everyone's claws should be clipped (at least every 3 wks.). I think you have a pretty accurate read on Hersh that he doesn't like it when he isn't 'in control'. When he goes off into the closet is it really out of fear from Blizzy or her claws or is he giving himself a 'timeout'? The fact that Hersh is still initiating play says to me that it's just playfighting. I would just ignore it, or if it really bothers you, distract them with interactive play or toys. If Hersh was truly fearful with the others he would become inactive, slink around slowly with tail tucked, withdraw himself. If that's happening, then you'll have to figure out giving him relax time (either by isolating him or the aggressor) in time outs, or diverting through interactive play, toys, or reprimands to the aggressor by your voice. I hope this has been helpful. Let us know how it goes.

Last edited by catloverami; 03-10-2011 at 02:22 PM.
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