Cat Social Behavior

Cat Behavior Ethogram

Definitions of some of the social behaviors displayed between domestic cats. Affiliative behaviors are those used during interactions with preferred associates- including other cats and humans! They often indicate a social bond between the individuals exists. Aggressive behaviors are displayed during conflicts. Sometimes aggressive behaviors are modified for use during play- like cuffing and chasing. Always watch the full interaction to better understand the behavior’s function.

 

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Upcoming talk! Cat Behavior and Cognition- Using science to increase cat welfare and strengthen the human-cat bond

KristynHeadshotSpeaker: Kristyn Vitale 
When:
September 19, 2017
Time: 8:00 PM EDT (Midnight UTC)
Cost: $25.00
Where: Online Webinar, Register at: www.e-trainingfordogs.com

In this cat behavior and cognition webinar, Kristyn Vitale will discuss the current science behind cat behavior and ways to utilize this knowledge in applied settings to improve cat welfare and strengthen the human-cat bond. Even though domestic cats are one of the world’s most popular companion animals, coexisting with humans for thousands of years, many questions remain unanswered about cat behavior, cognition, and the human-cat bond. Although science has much more to learn about cats, several applied benefits exist from future research in this area. Currently, pet cats outnumber dogs by almost 10 million in the US alone and millions of cats live in shelters or are free-roaming outdoors. Over 3.4 million cats enter already crowded shelters each year and of those surrendered by owners, approximately 27% are surrendered due to behavioral issues or incompatibility between cat and owner.

The talk will cover a variety of topics including:

  • the importance of scent in cat behavior
  • how to run cat preference assessments
  • free-roaming cat social behavior
  • the human-cat relationship
  • cat socialization & training

Simple Cat Training with Bo & Macy

Right now I’m working on several behaviors with Bo. None of these behaviors are new, but he knows some better than others. Macy shows up to show-off as well! For rewards, I use things each of the cats likes- such as deli turkey, petting, and praise. Below are some tips from different times of the video to give some additional detail on the behaviors! 

0:13 Bo is just learning the paw behavior and this is the second session he’s worked on it. Now that he is understanding the paw behavior I am working on adding in the vocal command, “paw”. When adding in a new cue, start by presenting the cue slightly after they do the behavior. So, I start to add the verbal cue “paw” slightly after he touches his paw to my hand. Eventually you can move the cue up, so it precedes the behavior. Then you can say “paw” and they will give you a high-5. 

0:19 Bo knows the jump behavior but he can be lazy sometimes! I know he can jump higher, so I only reward if I think the jump is worthy. This allows me to variably reward the jump behavior – meaning sometimes I give a treat, sometimes I don’t. Never knowing when the treat is going to come, Bo will try harder and give me a higher jump. 

0:46 Instead of using a closed hand for targeting like I do for Bo, I use a tap target so Macy can hear the area I want her to approach. Macy is blind so an auditory cue works best for her. 

0:50 I give Bo some treats for doing a good job and to divert his attention away from Macy’s treats!

New Publication! Chemical Signals & Cat Social Behavior

Vitale Shreve, K.R., Udell, M.A.R. (2016) Stress, security, and scent: The influence of chemical signals on the social lives of domestic cats and implications for applied settings. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.11.011 

Highlights

• Olfaction is an important perceptual sense, yet the role of chemical signals in cat behavior is not fully understood.
• Many aspects of cat social behavior are influenced by chemical signals.
• Chemical cues appear to play a role in stress and anxiety reduction, allowing cats to feel secure in their environment.
• Understanding chemical signals can help inform cat behavioral problems.
• Future research may yield new methods of addressing feline behavioral issues and strengthen the human-cat bond.

Abstract

Although millions of cats live among humans worldwide the scientific community sniffknows relatively little about cat behavior and cognition. Olfaction is an important perceptual sense for many members of Carnivora, however the role of chemical signals in cat social relationships is not fully understood. Research indicates chemical signals play an important role in many areas of cat behavior including mother-offspring and conspecific interactions and exploration of their environment. Chemical cues appear to play a role in stress and anxiety reduction, allowing cats to feel secure in their environment. A better understanding of cat chemical signals, especially as it relates to within and between species communication, may lead to an increase in cat wellbeing as humans can utilize this knowledge in applied settings. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to investigate how cats process and use chemical signals in social contexts and identify ways this information can be applied to address cat behavioral issues, such as inappropriate litter box and scratching behavior, and improve cat welfare, including species-appropriate ways of reinforcing the human-cat bond.

Contact: maueyes.catresearch [at] gmail.com

Upcoming talk! Improving the human-cat bond through a better understanding of cat behavior, training, and enrichment

KristynHeadshotSpeaker: Kristyn Vitale 
When:
Thursday 9/22/2016 @ 6:00 PM
Where: SafeHaven Training Center, Tangent, OR
Cost: Suggested donation of $5 at the door per guest.

Click here and select “Improving the human-cat bond…”  below “Guest Speaker” to register for the lecture! 

Although domestic cats are one of the most popular companion animals, outnumbering even dogs by almost 10 million in the US alone, relatively little scientific research has been conducted with cats. Many questions regarding cat behavior, especially their social behavior with humans, remain unanswered. With over 3.4 million cats entering already crowded shelters each year, many applied benefits exist from research into the human-cat bond. This talk will cover our scientific understanding of cat behavior and provide enrichment and training tips to help improve cat welfare and strengthen the human-cat bond.

Webinar! The Social Lives of Cats

The social lives of cats: What science says about cat behavior and the human-cat bond

Although domestic cats and humans have lived with one another for thousands of years, relatively little scientific research has been conducted with cats- especially when compared to the body of research on the domestic dog. Many questions regarding cat behavior, especially their social behavior with humans, remain unanswered. Currently, pet cats outnumber dogs by almost 10 million in the US alone and millions of cats live in shelters or are free-roaming outdoors. Over 3.4 million cats enter already crowded shelters each year and of those surrendered by owners, approximately 27% are surrendered due to behavioral issues or incompatibility between cat and owner. Therefore, there are many applied benefits from future research in this area. This talk will cover our scientific understanding of various aspects of cat behavior and cognition and current research being conducted in this area. We will also discuss ways to utilize this knowledge to improve cat welfare and strengthen the human-cat bond.

KristynHeadshot2_ETrainingSpeaker: Kristyn Vitale Shreve
When:
Live Webinar August 9th, 2016, 8:00 PM EDT, Midnight UTC/GMT
Cost: $25.00
Click here to register for the lecture! 

What We Understand about Cats and What They Understand about Us

New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 30, 2016
Link to full story 

A big part of cats’ lives are spent around their human owners, yet scientists are just starting to understand what they think of us

 

stoshpetIn my last post I introduced the topic of cat cognition and what we broadly know about how these animals think. In this post I’m going to talk more specifically about what we understand about cats’ interactions with the animal they spend most time with: us….

To read the rest of the article click here!