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The mechanics of social interactions between cats and their owners

By D. C. Turner

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This is a mini review that summarizes what is known from quantitative observational studies of social interactions between domestic cats and humans in both laboratory colonies and the home setting. Only results from data that have been statistically analyzed are included; hypotheses still to be tested will be declared as such. In some cases, the observational data have been combined with independently collected subjective assessments by the owners of the animals' character and owner personality traits to help interpret the data. Further some relevant experimental studies are also included. All social interactions between cats and humans that are discussed below assume that the animals were socialized to people as kittens, the first topic of this review. Such socialized cats show what might be called "friendliness to humans", which in turn affects human attachment to the cat. The visual and acoustic behavioral elements used to communicate and interact with other cats can be perceived by people and are also employed by the cats when interacting with them. The initiation, and the initiator of social interactions between cats and humans have been shown to influence both the duration of the interaction bout and total interaction time in the relationship. Compliance with the interactional "wishes" of the partner is positively correlated between the cats and the humans over all human-cat dyads examined. Cats do not spontaneously prefer one gender or age cohort of people, but the humans in those cohorts behave differently to the cats causing the latter to react differentially. The dyadic interaction structure has also been shown to differ between women and men and between older and younger adults. Nevertheless, cats-merely their presence but of course their behavior-can affect human moods and human mood differences have been shown to affect the behavior of the cats. Finally, differences have been found between interactions with purebred and non-purebred cats and between younger and older cats.

Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 7
Issue March
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2021.650143
Author Address Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology, I.E.A.P./I.E.T., Horgen, Switzerland.dennis@turner-iet.ch
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal communication
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Anthrozoology
  7. Behavioral research
  8. Breeding
  9. Carnivores
  10. Cats
  11. Differences
  12. Mammals
  13. open access
  14. Personality
  15. Pets and companion animals
  16. Psychiatry and psychology
  17. sex differences
  18. Social behavior
  19. Social psychology and social anthropology
  20. vertebrates
  21. Veterinary sciences
  22. welfare
  23. young animals
  24. Zoology
  1. open access