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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.
 

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Haha, I loved that video Rachel! Nito looks so cute hopping and growling so 'fiercely'! :p

Alice is my only growler, but she only does it when she gets a Drs. Foster and Smith 100% Salmon Fishie treat. I don't know what it is about those things, but she loves them!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Cat's aggressive behavior - squirt bottle?

Hi

I have a cat Vincent (6 years-old) who is very aggressive and territorial toward Leo (2 1/2). Incidentally, Vincent does not act this way toward Caesar who is Leo's brother.

I know that I need to separate Vincent and Leo for a long period and then try reintroducing them slowly to try and resolve this problem for the long term but I have a few other questions...

The way I initially tried dealing with Vincent's behavior was to say his name loud and get out the squirt bottle. On at least two occasions after I squirted Vincent and scolded him to stop he came after me scratching my legs (none of my cats are declawed). Since then I've tried just saying his name to get his attention and then petting him and calming him down.

I'm not sure what the conventional wisdom is on dealing with this. Is squirting him and saying his name loudly only scaring him more (I assumed it was)? Is trying to calm him down and petting him seeming like a reward to him?

Also, how to do you handle it if a cat shows aggression toward you? Do you not want to allow them to see themselves as dominate over you?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks to everyone for the replies. I really appreciate it.



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.
Suwanee's response above reminded me of a similar question I wanted to ask (yeah, I have a lot of cat issues!). I started a thread here.
 

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Rachel, I have a video very similar to your's, because my cats do the same thing!

I've actually wondered about the growling thing as well. Both of my kittens growl. They never growl at us, but they do growl at each other. Spencer was the first one to start it with Da Bird. He would growl while holding it in his mouth, but only when he caught sight of his sister. We just got them the Cat Chaser toy (by the same company as Da Bird), and they BOTH growl at each other when they have possession of that one! Lily also growls when she's eating her favorite Halo Liv-A-Little salmon treats and Spencer comes around...even though he doesn't like them and would never touch them. lol.

I'm not sure if it's a dominant behavior in our house, since both our kittens do it to each other...and it doesn't seem to affect their relationship in the least - they still wrestle, chase each other, cuddle together, and groom each other like normal. I always just assumed it was their way of saying "MINE!!" when they're playing with a favorite toy (or, in Lily's case, eating a favorite treat) - they are still babies (6 months) after all.
 

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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.herself....
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.
This is extremely helpful, catloverami. A few points in response. First, I believe it always has been play-flighting between Hersh and Blizzy. I have never had a real fight among any of my four, though Snowby (the defensive-aggressive one) and Blizzy came close a few times. I do think it is somewhat screech-bluffing, but the intensity of it at times, plus his running into the closet, led me to question that.

Second, Hersh is not a fearful cat. The running into the closet does strike me as a form of self-protection. Hersh has lost several tufts of fur to Blizzy from these encounters, to the point you can see a couple of thinner spots on his fur. That leads me to believe he has felt pain from his encounters with Blizzy, which would account for his wanting to play (he ALWAYS is up to play) but recoiling when Blizzy plays as hard as he does.

Third, and related, by far my biggest failing with my four is that i find it extremely hard to trim their nails. Blizzy just scratched me yesterday, out of excitement, when I gave him a treat. None of my four has ever been willing to sit still for me to trim more than one or two nails at a time. I really need to. I'm able to do what I do just after they awaken from a nap. I need/want to train them to expect treats in return for sitting still for a nail trimming, but they all go bonkers over treats, so I haven't yet tried isolating one at a time with a treats bag and trying to train them. I do think this is a major issue, as they all have very sharp nails. I've been scratched numerous times by them, not viciously, as they trust me, but because none of them likes to be held and so they squirm and fight to get away as soon as I restrict their movement. The little trimming I do is just by grabbing their paw and not their whole body, when they are still half-asleep.

Last, the question I was asking, without saying so explicitly, was "what do you think is going on, since the play-fighting response by Hersh seemed to me to be going close to or over the line". I think you have answered it extremely well, and I hope it's really his reaction to the pain. The shrieking at its worst is so loud that I am sure it can be heard outside the house and is beyond acceptable. Now that Snowby and Blizzy are semi-socialized with each other, nail-trimming is the issue I find most difficult and fraught with peril (for me!). I want them to learn it is a positive experience (treats follow) and also protect them from each other. So, I'll give it a try and see if that helps matters. My one doubt is that when Blizzy had his dental cleaning a month ago, they trimmed his nails, and I don't recall Hersh's shrieking with him subsiding the next couple of weeks. He really doesn't shriek otherwise. (BY the way, I can't ignore it, as Hersh ran onto a large hickory bookshelf, and when BLIzzy came after him, jumped off, and the whole 40 pound bookshelf came tumbling off the wall and onto the family room floor, miraculously missing a number of sculptures.)

Thanks so much again.
 

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NRD, Thanks, I'm glad to help, you're welcome. I know when the play-fighting becomes more aggressive than usual with my two, it's time to clip nails. Clipping their nails while they're sleeping/sleepy is good, even if you have to do only 2 at a time. It's difficult to get them really comfortable with having their nails clipped if they have it done infrequently, and never had it done as kittens. Some cats bite during clipping and some owners have to mummy-wrap the cat in a towel to get the job done as a last resort. I did hear of one owner's cat who was so nasty about it that he couldn't be clipped except under anesthesia.
 
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