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Male Reproductive Success in a Social Group of Urban Feral Cats (Felis catus L.)


E. Natoli, Azienda USL Roma D, Dipartimento di Sanita’ Pubblica Veterinaria, Ospedale Veterinario, via della Magliana 856, 00148 Rome, Italy.


Dominance rank, morphological characteristics and reproductive success of adult males were measured in a multi-male multi-female group of urban feral cats (Felis catus L.). Paternity of nine litters (34 kittens) of the domestic cat from six females was determined through microsatellites analyses at nine loci. The percentage of multiple paternities in this social group was as high as 78%. A positive correlation was found between male size/body weight and dominance. The males who sired the highest number of kittens were the dominant ones. Additionally, dominant males were more likely to be infected by the feline immunodeficiency virus, a virus transmitted by bites through aggressive interactions. Thus this study demonstrates that rank and body weight were both important in predicting the annual reproductive success. However, it shows that the reproductive benefit associated to rank may be balanced by cost due to at-risk aggressive behaviour of dominant males.