I have an adolescent cat that I adopted as a kitten (not this one :P ), and he growls when playing with his toys. At first I thought that he was growling at our other cat (also adopted as a kitten) for getting too close and trying to "steal" the toy but it quickly became obvious that was not the case as he would growl when he was all by him self in the other room.

The cat's history before his rescue is unknown to me, but I do know that he was rescued from a very traumatic situation being stuck in a road gutter for several hours.

He only growls at the toys made of "fluffy" material, never at the "non-fluffy" smoother ones. He's never growled at me or the other cat (that I know of).

I once attempted to get really close while he was growling just to see if he was in an aggressive mode and he was quite calm even when I reached out and took the toy he was playing with.

Is this normal behavior or just some sort of personality quirk?

  • 2
    Never owned a cat, but sounds to me like he is "hunting". Does it look like he is getting ready to pounce or is stalking the toy? Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 8:22
  • Nope - only when he has it in his mouth. It's more like after the hunt :P
    – Lix
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 8:23
  • since it is only the fluffy toys, maybe he is ticklish and it is tickling his mouth? Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 8:25
  • My cat does this all the time. No big deal. I throw his fluffy bird toy across the room he chassis & bringing it back hissing & growling. I'll try & grab & he hissis & yell's like it was life & death. I ignore him for 30sec & he wants me to through it again just play & protective of his catch. I really love how he just drop's it at my feet shows love.
    – user3573
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 3:32

4 Answers 4


Cats growl when they grapple with their prey. Your cat is just playing, which in cats is just following their natural predatory instincts. Source : Why does my female cat hiss and growl over furry toys?

In addition to this, I suggest that you do not try to pet him or stop him when he is doing this. If you do, he might think you're trying to take his "prey" away from him and can become aggresive towards you.

  • 6
    Interesting link; the part about hissing being a method of disciplining a kitten may apply too; the furry toys are pretend kittens in that case. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 9:15
  • I'll need to listen out for that; our one female cat is very maternal (she follows us anxiously for a while when we all go out, is all happy again when we all return, in conniptions when we split up). Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 9:27
  • @mar - do you think a male cat could also exhibit this maternal behavior?
    – Lix
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 13:02
  • 1
    I have not seen male cats being maternal. Our oldest cat (male) did form an obvious friendship with one of the younger cats (female, with us from birth), but had no patience for the others in the same nest, for example. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 13:13
  • 1
    Even worse; male cats may try to kill kittens. Like other cat species, males try to protect their own genetic material by eliminating kittens from competing males. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 13:15

I'd agree with Tijesunimi... your cat is -REALLY- getting into the spirit of the hunt.

A true growl is always aggressive. In this case your cat is saying "THIS IS MINE, EVERYONE BACK OFF FROM IT!" That doesn't necessarily mean that the cat actually thinks you or someone / something else is trying to take it away (it can, but it doesn't have to). In this case I think the cat is preemptively telling anything within earshot that only it has the right to the toy and no one should interfere. Thus anyone or anything trying to take the toy away should expect that they've been warned and a fight might happen.

My grrrls almost never growl at me. When Pounce de Leon was young she'd sometimes get the tossed aluminum foil (that my wife wrapped the fish she put in the oven with) and would growl out me when I would take it from her (fish is not good for a cat to begin with, let alone eating foil with baked on fish residue).


If you ever see baby kittens grab their first mouse, this kind of growl starts in seconds while the take their 'kill' into hiding... with a litter of them and mummy cat bringing them a litter of baby mice it sound like a serial form of Jekyll - Hide change. Happens, even if they are first afraid of the dead mouse, as soon as each of them first takes this furry thing into it's mouth. Seemingly instinctive behaviour, related to carrying furry things - and yes, might be closely related to call it their own.


I think its just natural instinct. My little male kitten, Hiro, just learned he can grab his toy and carry it. The minute he did, he carried it ALL OVER and started to growl as he carried it.

I had been playing fetch with him a couple times and then he realized he didn't have to let go. I think it's just instinctual. When he had finished carrying it around, he came over for attention and purred. He was just getting into it.

I don't think it's a big deal at all.

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