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I play with both my cats using a wand with various toys on the end of a string (never hands), but they do so very differently.

My Bengal likes to stalk the toy until it stops moving (usually just out of sight) and then pounces on it. If I pull it before he jumps, he stops and waits. If I pull it during his jump, he will chase it for a second at most.

My Savannah likes to chase the moving toy contiuously until he needs a break to catch his breath, then he will stare at it until it starts moving again so he can resume chasing.

In both cases, they usually stop when they catch the toy and walk away until I hide it or move it again, respectively, though occasionally both will carry it off to a corner to lick and chew on.

There is also a difference in how they play with balls, though I can't as easily describe it.

Is this difference just an individual personality thing, or does it have something to do with their different wild ancestors?

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    It's personality. I have two european shorthairs and it's the same situation. One is a chaser, the other a stalker. The stalker used to be a chaser when he was younger, but now it's hard to play with him because he only hides and then pounces once after 30 seconds of intense staring. It's the same when they are hunting outside. – Morfildur Nov 4 '19 at 14:52
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From your descriptions, I think it's mostly just a personality difference than having to do with the species they were hybridized from. Bengals are hybrids between Asian Leopard Cats and domestic cats, specifically the Egyptian Mau. Savannah cats are a hybrid between servals and domestic cats of various breeds, sometimes even including Bengals.

Both Asian Leopard Cats and servals are ambush predators by nature, preferring to wait while hidden, then jump out and pounce at a good opportunity. Hunting is also a partially learned behavior, so some cats are definitely better at it than others, which may also explain the difference.

The one sort of oddity with servals is that they are known for jumping up high and landing on their prey in order to stun or sometimes even kill, and they can jump as high as ten feet in order to catch birds. The unusually long legs in the serval cat is possibly to help with jumping. If you're noticing your savannah is particularly into jumping, that's likely due to it being a serval hybrid.

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  • The Savannah spends nearly as much time airborne as running when I play with him. I can get the Bengal to jump too occasionally, but his play style makes it rare. – StephenS Nov 3 '19 at 18:17

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