Showing posts with label agonistic behavior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label agonistic behavior. Show all posts

Monday 25 December 2023

The skin of a cat is not tightly attached to the muscle below

This is about how small cats - the wild cats and the domestic cat - are able to better protect themselves in the event of a fight with another cat over territory thanks to their anatomy.

Small wild cats and the domestic cat are able to protect themselves thanks to their anatomy. Image: MikeB

Small cats try and avoid physical fights to avoid harm which, in turn, ensures that they remain as fit as possible to be the excellent predator that they are. Injuries can blunt their predation and even lead to starvation. 

They avoid other cats by marking territory with scratch marks, urine and faeces. Also they can sometimes scream loudly at their neighbours to tell them not to encroach on their home range.

In short a range of methods are employed to achieve a result without actually fighting.

When there is physical confrontation between small cats over their home range, they will try to avoid fighting by sumo-style standoff signalling using sounds and body language postures. If effective the weaker cat slinks off very slowly. Job done.

The last resort is an actual fight and under these extreme circumstances the small cat has an anatomy which helps to protect them.

Here are some aspects of the small cat anatomy adaptations to inter-species fighting.
  1. The skin of the small cat is not tightly attached to the muscle below.
  2. The cat's body is very loosely enclosed within their skin.
  3. The muscles move and slip within the skin.
  4. Small cats seem to be able to rotate their body with their skin allowing the cat to often squirm free.
  5. The cat's fur protects them.
  6. The cat's fur seems to slide when grasped.
  7. A combatant's teeth and claws might penetrate fur and skin but they a less likely to penetrate muscle.
These aspects of the small cat anatomy helps to thwart the grip of a combatant. The odds are that a couple of small cats fighting over territory will come out of a fight without serious injury. You see ears mangled sometimes for example but that won't hinder survival.

They often return to their home ranges and continue to patrol it diligently as before.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 20 January 2023

One kitten hates the other after they were neutered. What's happening?

This is a question on the website which I would like to also answer on this site. This is quite a typical problem actually. Domestic cats identify almost everything that they encounter through their sense of smell. Or to put it more accurately, they confirm the identity of the object. This happens as you can see when they eat. They sniff food because at close range their eyesight is not that great and therefore, they've got to identify whether it is edible and nutritious through its smell.

One kitten hates the other after they were neutered. What's happening?
One kitten hates the other after they were neutered. What's happening? Image: u/jkamio

When a cat goes to a veterinary clinic for any procedure including a minor operation like a male neutering, they come back smelling of the veterinary clinic. And the veterinarian has probably used a sterilising agent on the site of the wound which also will have a strong smell.

These smells transform the freshly neutered cat into a complete stranger to the sibling. Whereas once they recognised their sibling as a friendly cat who they knew, all of a sudden, they are encountering a stranger who has invaded their space.

In response they hiss at their sibling which is disturbing to their human caregiver. They hate to see this agonistic behaviour among friendly cats.

But the smell will fade and the kitten when then once again become a sibling who they like. And perhaps the smell of the operation can be removed with a damp cloth. In addition, a bit of bedding used by both cats could be rubbed over the cat who had the operation to speed up the return of their body odour to its true smell.

It is nothing to worry about although it is concerning initially. Years ago, I had a brother and sister siblings who got on well. The sister fell into a pot of white paint. It was water-soluble and I immediately washed it off. I also washed off her body odour. 

Her brother no longer recognised her and hissed at her. She groomed herself fastidiously for about an hour to put her scent back and at that point he recognised her and the status quo was renewed.

There is another point worth making. Siblings when they are young are normally friendly towards each other. When they become adults and independent, that friendship may disappear as they become competitors for resources.

That's the wild cat behaviour which looks peculiar in the home of their caregiver. There is no need to be independent-minded when they are both being looked after but of course it is instinctive. They may get along but they may not any more.

Monday 19 July 2021

Domestic cats are not adapted to living in close proximity to each other

The title presents an interesting thought and it directly impinges upon what goes on in multi-cat households. Although domestic cats are social creatures and they can live in groups those groups need to be stable and the cats should be socialised to each other. In other words, the cats should be selected to get on with each other and ideally no new cats should be brought into the group which might destabilise it.

Domestic cats are not adapted to living in close proximity to each other
Domestic cats are not adapted to living in close proximity to each other. Montage: MikeB from images in the public domain.

Domestic cats don't have classic hierarchies when living in groups and they don't have signals which help to defuse conflict. Further, they don't have mechanisms such as reconciliation as discussed in studies by van den Bos & de Cock Buning 199b and van den Bos 1998.

In the wild, if there was conflict between cats, they would disperse to avoid each other and often this is impossible and in multi-cat homes and it certainly is impossible if they are living full-time inside a home. This is exactly what is happening with my neighbour about 4 yards from me right now. She has 10 cats and she hasn't got a clue as to what she's doing in terms of how the cats feel when they live in such close proximity to each other as far as I can tell.

One of the major reasons for the creation of behavioural problems in domestic cats such as timidity, fear and avoidance behaviours come about because of what is called environmental stressor i.e. things that happen in the environment in which they live which stress the cats. A high proportion of the stressors are concerned with the relationships between the cats and the relationship between the cats and people living in the home. This was found in a study by Casey and Bradshaw in 2000.

Sibling pairs of domestic cats more often have amicable relationship compared to unrelated cats when living together. Although, I think it is fair to say that not all siblings get along when they become adults because at that time they become independent. It's just that there is a greater likelihood of the siblings getting along in multi-cat homes.

A point comes to mind. Jackson Galaxy says that when you adopt a cat from a shelter you might adopt a pair if the shelter knows that they are known to get along. I guess that makes sense but not infrequently cats are rescued as a pair and then they are rehomed as a pair for obvious reasons. When two cats get along well, both their lives are enhanced and they should stick together. It is not only better for the cats it is also better for the cats' caretaker because they can entertain themselves and enrich the lives of each other.

When cats are introduced to each other as adults they may not regard each other as part of the group but they are sometimes regrettably forced to live together in close proximity which may lead to agonistic behaviour. 

Aggressive encounters may occur not infrequently between cats living in a high density in the neighbourhood. I'm referring to indoor/outdoor cats. This is a typical situation in the UK for instance. Under these circumstances some cats may become frightened of going outdoors. The other, more dominant cats will be attacking the timider cat when in a public area.

It is wise for cat owners particularly in condominiums and blocks of flats to be aware of this interaction between cats in the common parts within these complexes.

Ref: Cat Sense by Dr Bradshaw.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts