Do cats growl when they play

Whenever we watch two cats play-fight, it’s almost as if they’re rehearsing for a scene in The Lion King. But unlike Simba and Scar, cats don’t always growl during play. Some do, some don’t. It’s a behavior that can leave cat owners like us confused and worried.

If you’re a cat owner or just a curious cat lover, you may have asked yourself, “Do cats growl when they play?” So, keeping that in mind, we’ll explore this topic and discover whether growling is a normal part of it or a sign of something more sinister. Let’s jump right in..

Do cats always growl when they play

Well, let’s put it this way, When a cat growls during playtime, it’s like a character in a horror movie hearing a strange noise in the basement. You’re not sure what’s going on, but you know it’s not good.

Growling during playtime is not necessarily a cause for concern. It’s important to remember that cats are unique creatures with their own individuality. Some cats are more vocal than others, and some may be more prone to growling during playtime.

Now, if you’re a fan of the show “My Cat From Hell,” you may have seen some extreme cases of growling during playtime. You know, the kind of growling that makes you wonder if your cat is possessed by a demon. But don’t worry, those cases are few and far between.

Why do some cats growl during play

You know that feeling when you’re playing a game and you’re so into it that you start growling like a feral animal? No? Just me?

Well, it turns out that some cats have that same instinctual urge to growl during playtime. But why do they do it? Here are the reasons:

  1. Communication 

Grooming is one way that cats communicate with each other during play. It can be a signal that they’re enjoying the game and having fun, or it can be a way for them to communicate their boundaries and let their playmate know when they’ve had enough. Think of it like how Chewbacca communicates with his friends in the Star Wars universe using his unique growls and roars.  

[Also read “why do cats meow back at you”]

  1. Excitement

Cats can get really into their playtime, especially when they’re playing with toys or other cats. Growling may be a way for them to express their excitement and enthusiasm, like how Rocky Balboa pumps himself up before a big fight.

  1. Intimidation

In some cases, growling during play may be a way for a cat to intimidate their playmate and establish dominance. This can be especially true if the cats are meeting for the first time or if one cat is more dominant than the other.

Think of it like how Darth Vader establishes his dominance over the galaxy by using his powerful presence and intimidating voice.

  1. Tension release

Growling during play may simply be a way for a cat to release tension and let off some steam. Just like how a superhero might release their powers to save the day, a cat may use growling to release some of their pent up energy and enjoy a good play session. 

What are the typical behaviors of cats when they play

If you’ve ever watched a cat in the midst of a play session, you know how awe inspiring it can be. From lightning fast movements to gravity defying jumps, cats are true masters of playtime. So, what are the typical behaviors you can expect to see when your cat is in the zone?

Let’s find out here:

  • Pouncing: Cats are like mini tigers, and they love to pounce on toys like a jungle predator. Your cat might crouch down low, wiggle their butt, and then launch themselves into the air to catch a toy.
  • Chasing: I bet you have seen a cat go wild over a laser pointer or a feather toy plenty of times. That’s because they love to chase. It’s like they’re on a mission to catch their prey and show off their hunting skills.
  • Swatting: Cats use their paws to swat at objects, whether they’re trying to bat them around or capture them, just like Jedi knights using their lightsabers in “Star Wars.”
  • Wrestling: Cats love to play-fight with their friends, and watching them roll around and tussle can be quite entertaining, like the wrestling matches we see in the WWE.
  • Leaping: Cats are incredible jumpers, and watching them leap into the air to catch a toy or climb a cat tree is truly impressive, like the amazing acrobatics we see in the “Mission: Impossible” movies.
  • Vocalizing: Some cats may meow, chirp, or make other noises while they play, expressing their excitement or trying to communicate with us or feline playmates, much like the way characters in “Friends” express their emotions through dialogue.

How to tell if your cat’s growling during play is playful or aggressive

Just think, You’re having a blast playing with your cat when suddenly you hear a low growling noise. What’s going on? Is your cat turning into a miniature Godzilla?

Don’t panic, it’s probably just a case of playful growling. However, it’s important to know how to differentiate between playful growling and aggressive behavior. Here are some tips:

  1. Pay attention to your cat’s body language 

If they’re relaxed, with their tail twitching and their ears forward, then chances are they’re just having some harmless fun. On the other hand, if their tail is puffed up like a Halloween cat, their ears are flattened, and they seem tense, it’s probably time to pause the playtime and assess the situation.

  1. Think about your cat’s play style

If they’re chasing a toy or wrestling with another cat, growling may just be a part of their playful repertoire. However, if they start biting or scratching too hard, or if they seem to be targeting one particular person or pet, that could be a sign of aggression.

  1. Listen to your cat’s vocalizations

If their growling is soft and intermittent, it’s probably playful. But if they’re growling loudly and continuously, or if they’re hissing or yowling, that’s a sign of aggression. It’s like the difference between a friendly tiger in a Disney movie versus Scar, the evil lion in The Lion King. [Take a look to know “What your cats trying to say”]

  1. Consider the context 

If your cat is only growling during playtime and is otherwise friendly and affectionate, then they’re probably just having a good time. But if they’re growling during other situations, such as feeding time or meeting new people, that could be a sign of territorial behavior.

What to do if your cat is growling aggressively during play

Hey, we all love to play with our cuddly furballs. It’s always fun to see them chase toys and pounce on imaginary prey. But what happens when your cat starts growling aggressively during playtime? Don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Stop the playtime immediately

The first step is to stop the playtime immediately. You don’t want to risk getting scratched or bitten. Plus, your cat probably needs a timeout to cool off. Think of it as a “cat nap” for their emotions.

  1. Give your cat some space

They may need some alone time in a quiet room to help them relax. Who knows, maybe they’ll even put on some soft jazz music and meditate like the cool cats in those cat food commercials.

  1. Assess the situation 

Did your cat get scared by a loud noise or sudden movement? Did they mistake your hand for a toy? Try to understand what may have triggered the aggressive behavior. You know, like how we sometimes get hungry and snap at people.

  1. Consult with a professional 

If all else fails, it’s time to call in the professionals. No, we’re not talking about the Avengers, we’re talking about a veterinarian or a cat behaviorist. They can help you identify the underlying cause of the behavior and provide you with tips on how to manage it.

[Also read: “how to keep indoor cats entertained”]


Now, before we wrap things up. You know that scene in The Lion King where Simba and Nala play-fight as cubs? Yeah, that’s basically what it’s like watching two cats play together. It’s just as adorable, trust me.

But enough about me, what did you think of the article? Did you learn something new about your feline’s behavior?

Do you have any funny cat play stories to share? Let us know in the comments below! And if you found this article helpful, don’t forget to hit that share button and spread the word to your fellas. Thanks for reading.

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