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Abstract

The behaviour of a group of female domestic cats (n = 10) under laboratory conditions is described. Behavioural observations were made on a total of 20 days during a 3-month period; only frequencies were recorded. Analysis of the winner/loser matrix revealed a linear rank order. This rank order correlated with several variables. The higher the rank, the more offensive threats a cat emitted overall, and the more defensive threats it received overall; within a pair, the higher-ranking cat displayed more offensive threats, whereas the lower-ranking cat displayed more defensive threats. The higher a rank, the more bouts of social licking a cat emitted overall, and the more bouts of social sniffing and social rubbing it received overall; within a pair, the higher-ranking cat tended to show more social licking, whereas the lower-ranking cat showed more social sniffing. The higher the rank, the more time a cat tended to spend on the floor, and the less time it spent in a 16-compartment complex; the further animals were apart in rank, the smaller were the proximity scores between them. Finally, higher-ranking cats tended to gain weight, whereas lower-ranking cats tended to lose weight. These data suggest that the concept of dominance may be applied to this group of cats. It is discussed whether the observed rank order is specific for indoor conditions under which the cats were living. The role of social licking is also discussed.