Journal of Ethology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

The function of allogrooming in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus); a study in a group of cats living in confinement

  • Ruud van den Bos


Grooming interactions (n=83) occurring in a group of non free-ranging adult neutered male (n=14) and female (n=11) domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) were analysed. Grooming was not induced by the proximity (distance <=0.5 m) of another animal. Grooming was in general directed at the head-neck area. Higher ranking animals groomed lower ranking animals more often than the other way round. Groomers tended to adopt ‘higher’ (standing, sitting upright) postures than groomees (sitting, lying). Agonistic behaviour occurred in 35% of interactions. Groomers showed offensive behaviour more often than groomees, most often after grooming a partner. Furthermore groomers often groomed themselves after grooming a partner. The degree of relatedness of animals did not affect the frequencies or durations of grooming. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that allogrooming in domestic cats may be a way of redirecting (potential) aggression in situations in which overt aggression is too costly.


Felis Overt Aggression Offensive Behaviour Ranking Animal Lower Ranking Animal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruud van den Bos
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Anthrozoology Institute, Dept. BiologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Dept. of Ethics, History and Alternatives of Animal ExperimentsUniversity of LeidenLeidenthe Netherlands

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