Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Cat communication

Contributor(s): Jenna Kiddie, Sarah Ellis

Introduction

  • Despite their popularity as companion animals and their long association with people, cats are often misunderstood. Domestic cats evolved from a small, solitary and territorial predator (African wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica) that rarely met other cats and therefore did not need to develop a complex visual communication system, like more naturally social species have, such as dogs and humans. This behavioral characteristic persists in our domestic cats today.
  • This difference in social behavior can sometimes be confusing for owners, which can often lead to conflict between owner and cat and can consequently compromise the cat's welfare. However, cats do communicate their feelings and intentions with each other and with us, using a variety of different ways, including visual, tactile and vocal signals. In addition, cats also extensively use specific chemical signals to communicate with one another, such chemicals exist in the urine cats spray, and in the secretions they deposit when they facial rub and when they scratch.
Print off the owner factsheet on Cat communication Cat communication to give to your client.
 

Visual signaling

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Tactile communication

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Vocal communication

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Understanding cat communication

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Mills D, Dube M B & Zulch H (2013) Stress and Pheromonatherapy in small animal clinical behaviour. Wiley Blackwell. Chapter 3.
  • Bradshaw  J W S , Casey R A &  Brown S L (2012) The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat. C.A.B. International.
  • Bowen J & Heath S (2005) Behaviour problems in small animal: practical advice for the veterinary team. Elsevier Saunders. Chapter 4.
  • icatcare.org/advice/cat-communication


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