Journal of Ethology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 325–329

Do faecal odours enable domestic cats (Felis catus) to distinguish familiarity of the donors?

  • Miyabi Nakabayashi
  • Ryohei Yamaoka
  • Yoshihiro Nakashima
Short Communication


We studied the ability of domestic cats to distinguish familiarity based on faecal odours. This was evaluated by comparing the sniffing duration of cats’ own, familiar, and unfamiliar faeces. We found that (1) sniffing durations differed between unfamiliar faeces and the other types of faeces, (2) sniffing durations of faeces of the same unfamiliar individuals decreased over time, and (3) sniffing durations toward unfamiliar faeces increased after change of donors. These results indicate that domestic cats can distinguish the faecal odours based on familiarity. This ability could be adaptive for domestic cats to maintain their social relationships.


Felis catus Faecal odours Familiarity Sniffing durations Olfactory communication 

Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miyabi Nakabayashi
    • 1
  • Ryohei Yamaoka
    • 2
  • Yoshihiro Nakashima
    • 3
  1. 1.Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Kyoto Institute of TechnologyKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Science, Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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