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

Abstract

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.

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The data were previously presented at the 29th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (van den Bos, R. (1995) Allogrooming in domestic cats in confinement, Proceedings of the 29th International Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology, S.M. Rutter et al. (Eds.), pp. 109–110)

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van den Bos, R. The function of allogrooming in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus); a study in a group of cats living in confinement. J. Ethol. 16, 1–13 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02896348

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Keywords

  • Felis
  • Overt Aggression
  • Offensive Behaviour
  • Ranking Animal
  • Lower Ranking Animal