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At some point, my cat started growling whenever she manages to catch her toys in her teeth. When she does this, she holds onto it while growling whenever anyone is within a meter or two. One thing that may or may not be relevant is that she's an F3 Bengal cat.

At first, I figured she was getting possessive of it, but I'm not sure if that's the case. If I try to take away the toy, she'll pull the toy, but if I actually take it away from her, she immediately returns to the standard playful behavior - and if she catches the toy, she growls again. While this is happening, she doesn't try to scratch or bite, and it doesn't seem to escalate in any way.

My question is - is it a normal part of how she wants to play? Or is it something stressful to her and I shouldn't try to take the toy? My initial assumption was that it's stressful (and that's what the other related questions imply, e.g. this and this one), but once I realized that she immediately returns to play mode after "losing" the toy and that it doesn't escalate, I'm not sure anymore.

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  • My BG and SV do the same. They’ll growl but won’t fight over a toy; they will fight over live prey, though, so they appear to understand what play is and that it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
    – StephenS
    Dec 1 '21 at 18:19
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From your description, this sounds to me as if your cat is just really immersed into the play hunt.

We frequently see this behavior from our own cats with live prey. When they caught a mouse for example, they tend to bring it inside and will growl at the other cats, even at us, while looking for a safe place to eat their catch.

Even if they are just playing with the catch, they will growl whenever they feel they currently 'own' it. This stops when they drop it for one of the other cats to play with, or if they lose it while tossing it around (apparently this ends ownership in their mind).

This is normal behavior, in nature the catch isn't yours to keep if you can't defend it after all.

When we introduce new toys, this behavior can sometimes be observed when they 'caught' it and carry it around, but that depends on if the toy is something they are really into.

Bengals are notorious for being a wild and high-energy breed, so it would not surprise me to see play hunting getting a bit intense at times.

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    As to the second part of the OPs question, if she seems to be enjoying the play, then what you're doing is fine. Having the toy taken away and having to "catch" it again might frustrate some cats. But you know your cast best, and it sounds like you're alert to signs of frustration, so I think you can trust your own judgement here.
    – mhwombat
    Dec 1 '21 at 18:10

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