Do faecal odours enable domestic cats (Felis catus) to distinguish familiarity of the donors?
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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.
KeywordsFelis catus Faecal odours Familiarity Sniffing durations Olfactory communication
We are deeply grateful to the cat keepers for their warm assistance in sample collection and conducting behavioral experiments. Their understandings and enthusiasms made this work possible. We sincerely thank Assoc. Prof. Dr. T. Akino in Kyoto Institute of Technology for his valuable supports and guidance. We are also grateful to Dr. H. Samejima and Dr. R. Ito for their kind advices and comments on earlier drafts of this paper. We thank two anonymous reviewers for critical readings and helpful comments that greatly improved previous versions of the manuscript.
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