I adopted a female kitten that is about 8 weeks old with 3 other litter mates. She is a medium-haired tuxedo. I've had them for about 3 weeks. I brought home a new toy for her to play with today. It's a stick toy with a feather and a small stuffed ball attached (no catnip.) She loves it -- so much so that she growls and hisses while biting and kicking it.

She drags it off to another corner and continues this behavior by herself for a long time (20 minutes until I interrupted.) It seems obsessive because she is oblivious to any outside stimuli. She shares all other toys with her brothers/sisters and does not hiss at them while playing. She does not react to cat nip yet. She only hisses when I include this toy in their group-play.

It happened immediately, the first time I unwrapped the toy and continued until I put it away. She seemed fine afterward, playing with her sister, not drugged or dazed, but she did search for the toy for a few seconds, once or twice.

The others do not react the same way but they did not participate while she played with this toy, seeming to read her ques immediately. They played with it unenthusiastically when I continued to tease the group with it. This is when she hissed, then carried it off again and continued rolling around and growling.

She has hissed and growled once before when her sister and brother came back home after spending a week with someone else. She was fine again after 24 hours -- sleeping with them and grooming them again. She is normal and friendly otherwise.

What is this reaction? Is it healthy? Should I get rid of the toy? I am concerned she may have problems with other cats in the future and I really want more cats. Is this a red flag or some behavior issue?

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    it is not uncommon for cats to be protective of the food or prey but you need to stop it now before it gets a habit as this behavior can easily become a problem if you let it continue. Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:53

2 Answers 2


While "resource guarding" of a toy is more common in dogs than cats, it can happen; in these cases, it's better to stick to supervised play with the toy in question, to help prevent any extreme escalation of the aggressive behavior.

Most of the tactics for addressing resource guarding in dogs depend on training tactics that don't work well in cats, but keeping the toy put away, and being sure that removing the toy isn't a punishment (try offering high-value treats when putting it away to make the end of playtime less of a "bad" thing), can be beneficial toward at least partially rectifying the problem. As long as you're supervising the play, there's little chance of a fight escalating when one of the other cats decides they might want the toy. You're able to step in and remove the kitten who might be getting too close before a fight can start.

As an aside, wand toys (sticks with toys attached, either directly to the end or with a string) should only be used for supervised play, and should always be put away when done. They are meant for interactive play between you and your cat, and can pose a danger to a cat if they become entangled in or swallow the string, pull parts off and swallow them, or choke on part of it. Always put them away in a place the cat cannot access when done.


This sounds like perfectly normal cat behaviour (although I don't have much experience with kittens). Taking her favourite toy away from her may cause separation anxiety, so I wouldn't do it. However, she is obviously honing her hunting skills, and if she is going to be an indoor cat, you may want to discourage that.

My cat has a peculiar little growl when he brings prey home. It is entirely normal behaviour.

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    Discouraging instinctive behavior (hunting skills) isn't a good idea. Indoor-only cats can still exercise their hunting skills, especially if insects or rodents get in.
    – Allison C
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:48

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