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Kitten Aggression (Not Play)

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hey everybody.

My 12 week-old kitten, Ella, is, most of the time, fabulous. She does typical kitten play behaviors, but we've been teaching her not to use our bodies as her toys. By and large, she's great; she'll only play with her humans with her claws in and give gentle bites. She's a friendly, social, "people-cat."

She has lots of toys, and she plays with them all in typical fashion.

Except for one. It's a "bouncy mouse," a brown mouse with feet on an elastic string. The first time she got a hold of it, it's like she became a different cat. She began growling and hissing while holding it in her mouth (she is neither a growler nor a hisser, in general; it was the first time I heard those noises from her), and she refused to let it go. If my girlfriend or myself attempted to take it from her, she attacked us - not playing. Claws out, trying to really hurt, and biting at full-strength.

I finally was able to get it away from her, but nothing - not food, other toys, catnip - could get her to let go of it willingly. It's like "bouncy mouse" possessed her

Has anyone seen anything like this before? What's the cause of it? We got her at about 7 weeks; her mother had abandoned her at around 4 or 5 weeks, and we got her from someone who'd been feeding her outdoors since her mom left. She has other unusual, orphan-like behaviors... is this one of them? She doesn't react that way to anything else!

I've disposed of the toy, but I'm not sure how to avoid this happening in the future. We're always picking up toys for her.
post #2 of 3
She may be claiming the mouse as "her food" for whatever reason, and fighting to keep it. It may remind her of something when she was younger, especially since feral adopted cats typically have to fight for their food if their mom abandons them.

She may get over it -- perhaps give her a treat when she picks up the mouse? That way she knows you don't want to eat it, since you apparently have lots of food. Plus she'll have to drop the mouse to eat the treat.

The fact that she's so aggressive with the toy isn't bad, by itself. Having a go-to toy is great for a pet. You may just need to let her know that she doesn't need to be so protective over her "kill."
post #3 of 3
It's too bad you threw away her favorite toy -- that was her "prey" and she was doing nothing wrong, only defending her prey that she proudly caught. She saw it as a real mouse, and from how you describe it, it did look pretty realistic, though I'm sure it didn't smell or taste like "mouse". The other poster was right -- feral and homeless cats have to catch prey for themselves and defend it. This is why she was doing that. The thing to do if she exhibits this behavior in future is let her alone! When she is done with her "prey" for the time being, she'll do something else. Then you can pick up the toy and put it away, if you want to, and let her play with it some more on another occasion.

My Sahra, who was born outdoors and spent quite a bit of time there before joining our family, exhibits this behavior, too. I'm proud of her, and astounded at her ferocity -- she's only a kitten-sized cat! and very sweet with me.
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