Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 January 2023) | Viewed by 59143

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sophia University, 7-1, Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8554, Japan
Interests: animal psychology; evolutionary psychology

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Human-Animal Interaction and Reciprocity, Azabu University, Kanagawa, Japan
Interests: comparative cognition; cats' social cognition

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8203, Japan
Interests: cats' genetics; cats' cognition and behavior

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Throughout the world, cats have established themselves as companion animals, along with dogs. While there has been a great deal of research on dog behavior and cognition in relation to humans, similar research in cats has lagged behind. In recent years, the number of such studies has been increasing rapidly, but they are still far behind those on dogs. The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish research or review articles on feline behavior and cognition, especially in relation to humans. We also expect submissions of research that takes into account the issue of reproducibility, which has recently become a problem in the field of comparative cognitive science. Replication studies and negative results are also welcome.

Dr. Atsuko Saito
Dr. Saho Takagi
Dr. Minori Arahori
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • cat
  • Felis catus
  • cat–human interaction
  • cognition
  • comparative animal
  • communication

Published Papers (10 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

13 pages, 1131 KiB  
Article
Cats Did Not Change Their Problem-Solving Behaviours after Human Demonstrations
by Minori Arahori, Ayano Kimura, Saho Takagi, Hitomi Chijiiwa, Kazuo Fujita and Hika Kuroshima
Animals 2023, 13(6), 984; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13060984 - 8 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2567
Abstract
Humans learn by observing the behaviour of others, which can lead to more efficient problem-solving than by trial-and-error learning. Numerous studies have shown that animals, other than humans, are also capable of social learning. Dogs, as humans’ closest companion animals, can learn to [...] Read more.
Humans learn by observing the behaviour of others, which can lead to more efficient problem-solving than by trial-and-error learning. Numerous studies have shown that animals, other than humans, are also capable of social learning. Dogs, as humans’ closest companion animals, can learn to obtain rewards following behavioural demonstrations by humans. However, it is not known whether cats, who also live with humans, can learn how to solve problems by observing human behaviours. Three experiments were used to investigate whether cats could change their behaviour and gain rewards efficiently by observing a human demonstrating how to obtain food. In Experiment 1, a human demonstrated how to open a transparent drawer and take out the reward inside, but cats did not significantly follow the same method as the human. In Experiment 2a, a transparent tube device was used to make the operation easier for cats. However, cats were not influenced by the human behaviour. As the devices used in these experiments were transparent, meaning that the cats could see the food inside directly, they might have required strong inhibitory control. Therefore, in Experiment 2b the tube device was made opaque, and cats again observed the human demonstration. Nevertheless, the cats were not influenced by the human’s behaviour. The results of these experiments indicate a lack of social learning, including imitation, from human behaviours in cats, at least in these experimental settings with food rewards. Other than their inherent ability, cats’ biological characteristics and the experimental context may have contributed towards the negative results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

10 pages, 1271 KiB  
Article
Sociality of Cats toward Humans Can Be Influenced by Hormonal and Socio-Environmental Factors: Pilot Study
by Hikari Koyasu, Hironobu Takahashi, Ikuto Sasao, Saho Takagi, Miho Nagasawa and Takefumi Kikusui
Animals 2023, 13(1), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13010146 - 30 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3367
Abstract
Individual differences in the sociality of cats are influenced by inherited and environmental factors. We recently revealed that hormones can make a difference in intraspecies social behavior. It remains unclear whether cat behavior toward humans is modulated by hormones. Therefore, we analyzed the [...] Read more.
Individual differences in the sociality of cats are influenced by inherited and environmental factors. We recently revealed that hormones can make a difference in intraspecies social behavior. It remains unclear whether cat behavior toward humans is modulated by hormones. Therefore, we analyzed the relationship between cat behavior and their basal hormone concentrations after spending time together with human experimenters. In addition, we analyzed the relationship between cat behavior and the timing of when the individual cats began living with a human because the sociality of cats could be dependent on their developmental experiences. The results showed that male cats that began living with humans earlier had more contact with an experimenter. In addition, individual male cats with low testosterone levels were more likely to interact with an experimenter. These findings of this pilot study suggest that the sociality of male cats toward humans is affected by testosterone and the age at which they begin to live with humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

19 pages, 317 KiB  
Article
The Cat–Owner Relationship: Validation of the Italian C/DORS for Cat Owners and Correlation with the LAPS
by Carmen Borrelli, Giacomo Riggio, Tiffani Josey Howell, Patrizia Piotti, Silvana Diverio, Mariangela Albertini, Paolo Mongillo, Lieta Marinelli, Paolo Baragli, Francesco Paolo Di Iacovo, Angelo Gazzano, Federica Pirrone and Chiara Mariti
Animals 2023, 13(1), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13010069 - 24 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2052
Abstract
Globally, most people now own a pet. Scales have been developed to understand the impact of pet ownership on people’s lives and to measure specific aspects of the owner–pet relationship. The Cat-/Dog-Owner Relationship Scale (C/DORS) is a tool developed to investigate this relationship [...] Read more.
Globally, most people now own a pet. Scales have been developed to understand the impact of pet ownership on people’s lives and to measure specific aspects of the owner–pet relationship. The Cat-/Dog-Owner Relationship Scale (C/DORS) is a tool developed to investigate this relationship in both dog and cat owners. The aim of the study was to refine and validate the C/DORS for cat owners in Italian. Exploratory Factor Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) were used to determine the most appropriate factor model. Construct validity was confirmed by correlating the C/DORS subscales with the Lexington Attachment to Pets (LAPS) subscales. Results confirmed the original structure of the English version (i.e., three factors: Pet Owner Interaction = POI, Perceived Emotional Closeness = PEC, Perceived Costs = PC) and CFA confirmed the structure of LAPS and C/DORS scales. Cronbach’s alpha demonstrated the Italian version of the two scales to have good internal reliability for all domains. Owners of cats living exclusively indoors reported higher scores on POI and PEC compared to indoor/outdoor cats. Owning both cats and dogs was correlated with lower scores on POI, and fewer perceived costs (i.e., PC) of cat ownership. Finally, behaviour problems, not being neutered, and lack of previous experience with cat ownership were associated with lower scores on PC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
11 pages, 1486 KiB  
Article
Changes in Cat Facial Morphology Are Related to Interaction with Humans
by Madoka Hattori, Atsuko Saito, Miho Nagasawa, Takefumi Kikusui and Shinya Yamamoto
Animals 2022, 12(24), 3493; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12243493 - 10 Dec 2022
Viewed by 13699
Abstract
We aimed to clarify the changes in facial morphology of cats in relation to their interactions with humans. In Study 1, we compared the facial morphology of cats (feral mixed breed, owned domestic mixed breed, and owned domestic purebreds) with that of African [...] Read more.
We aimed to clarify the changes in facial morphology of cats in relation to their interactions with humans. In Study 1, we compared the facial morphology of cats (feral mixed breed, owned domestic mixed breed, and owned domestic purebreds) with that of African wildcats. After collecting 3295 photos, we found that owned domestic cats’ noses were significantly shorter than those of African wildcats and feral mixed breed, and there were no significant differences between the latter two. The eye angles were significantly more gradual in owned domestic purebreds than in the other groups. In Study 2, we examined the correlation between facial morphology and years with the owner, and found that the former is not affected by the latter. This suggests that changes in facial morphology are possibly transgenerational changes. The difference in facial morphology between wildcats and owned cats might be caused by domestication, and that between feral cats and owned cats might be due to feralization. In Study 3, we investigated whether cats’ facial features affect cuteness ratings. We asked human participants to evaluate the cuteness of cats’ face images and found that faces with shorter nose lengths were considered cuter. This suggests that owned domestic cats’ facial morphology is preferred by humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 312 KiB  
Article
Physiological Assessment of the Health and Welfare of Domestic Cats—An Exploration of Factors Affecting Urinary Cortisol and Oxytocin
by Takumi Nagasawa, Yuichi Kimura, Koji Masuda and Hidehiko Uchiyama
Animals 2022, 12(23), 3330; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12233330 - 28 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3106
Abstract
Physiological samples are beneficial in assessing the health and welfare of cats. However, most studies have been conducted in specialized environments, such as shelters or laboratories, and have not focused on cats living in domestic settings. In addition, most studies have assessed physiological [...] Read more.
Physiological samples are beneficial in assessing the health and welfare of cats. However, most studies have been conducted in specialized environments, such as shelters or laboratories, and have not focused on cats living in domestic settings. In addition, most studies have assessed physiological stress states in cats based on cortisol, and none have quantified positive indicators, such as oxytocin. Here, we collected urine samples from 49 domestic cats and quantified urinary cortisol, oxytocin, and creatinine using ELISA. To identify factors influencing hormone levels, owners responded to questionnaires regarding their housing environment, individual cat information, and the frequency of daily interactions with their cats. Using principal component analysis, principal component scores for daily interactions were extracted. These results showed that the frequency of tactile and auditory signal-based communication by owners was positively correlated with the mean concentration of oxytocin in the urine. Additionally, this communication was more frequent in younger cats or cats that had experienced a shorter length of cohabitation with the owner. However, no factors associated with urinary cortisol concentration were identified. Our study indicates that interactions and relationships with the owner influence the physiological status of cats and suggests that oxytocin is a valuable parameter for assessing their health and welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
17 pages, 867 KiB  
Article
Association between Socio-Demographic Factors and Owners’ Beliefs and Attitudes to Pet Cats Fundamental Dietary and Physical Exercise Needs, in City of Belfast
by Violetta Naughton, Teresa Grzelak, Maria S. Mulhern, Charlotte R. Moffett and Patrick J. Naughton
Animals 2022, 12(19), 2645; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12192645 - 1 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1958
Abstract
A cross-sectional survey questionnaire was developed in-house to investigate pet cat owners’ beliefs and attitudes related to the fundamental care of their pet cats. The questionnaire consisted of questions which were grouped into the following sections: (i) owners’ socio-demographics; (ii) cat(s) body weight [...] Read more.
A cross-sectional survey questionnaire was developed in-house to investigate pet cat owners’ beliefs and attitudes related to the fundamental care of their pet cats. The questionnaire consisted of questions which were grouped into the following sections: (i) owners’ socio-demographics; (ii) cat(s) body weight and body condition monitoring; (iii) owners’ attitudes to cats’ dietary preferences, needs and satisfaction, (iv) owners’ perceptions of their cats’ physical exercise needs and satisfaction. The sample size of 376 was estimated to be required to represent the population of the given geographical location (Belfast, NI, UK). Hard copies of the questionnaires were distributed in January and February 2019 and in total 402 completed questionnaires were collected; questionnaires which included >20% of missing or incomprehensible responses were excluded from the database, resulting in 398 questionnaires being included in the final database. The study identified a number of socio-demographic factors associated with owners’ beliefs and attitudes that directly affect care provided to pet cats, e.g., the owner’s occupation has been identified as a factor associated with owner perception of certain cats’ behaviours, e.g., a cat brushing against the owner as food requests by their animal (Chi-Square 7.711 (df1), exact p = 0.006). Furthermore, most female respondents, aged 26–67 years and in an occupation not related to animals, reported selecting cat food based on their animal preferences (Chi-Square 10.332 (df1), exact p = 0.003). In contrast, female owners in animal and veterinary occupations were significantly more likely as compared to other respondents (Chi-Square 15.228 (df1), exact p < 0.001), to select cat food based on its perceived health benefit to the cat. Analysis of the respondents’ opinions of cats’ abilities to self-regulate physical activity showed that owners age was the main differentiating determinant, i.e., cat owners over 25 years old were significantly more likely than younger adults to believe that pet cats can regulate their own physical activity to keep healthy (Chi-Square 6.313 (df1), exact p = 0.025). Furthermore, respondents’ opinions of their cat’s ability to self-regulate feed intake were mainly associated with owner’s education level (Chi-Square 6.367 (df1), exact p = 0.036). The study results indicated that the attitude and beliefs behind the fundamental care practices provided to pet cats depends on particular demographic factors, especially owners’ education and occupation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 1105 KiB  
Article
Cat Foster Program Outcomes: Behavior, Stress, and Cat–Human Interaction
by Kristyn R. Vitale, Delaney H. Frank, Jocelyn Conroy and Monique A. R. Udell
Animals 2022, 12(17), 2166; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12172166 - 24 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 5465
Abstract
Recent research has demonstrated that cats (Felis catus) have greater social potential and flexibility than was previously assumed. However, many traditional cat care practices have been influenced by the misconception that cats are socially aloof. This can result in less support [...] Read more.
Recent research has demonstrated that cats (Felis catus) have greater social potential and flexibility than was previously assumed. However, many traditional cat care practices have been influenced by the misconception that cats are socially aloof. This can result in less support or guidance for cat-focused programs that may promote improved success or welfare. For example, while dog fostering programs—even overnight programs—are considered highly beneficial, with research to back these claims, relatively little research has been dedicated to understanding the potential risks and benefits of cat fostering programs. Therefore, the aim of this study was to empirically evaluate the social, behavioral, and stress response outcomes associated with placing shelter cats in an overnight or short-term foster environment. While neither overnight nor 1-week fostering lead to a statistically significant improvement in human-directed social behavior or stress levels, foster cats also did not display increased fear or aggression in the foster home and did not have higher cortisol levels. Therefore, cat fostering—even short-term fostering—does not appear to be more stressful or problematic for this species than remaining in a shelter. This information could contribute to life-saving efforts by providing empirical evidence that cats can be safely moved into foster homes, even for short durations, when shelter space is limited. More research is needed to evaluate the potential effects of longer-term fostering in cats, as well as cat fostering practices that could lead to greater welfare benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 1839 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Baby Schema in Cats on Length of Stay in an Irish Animal Shelter
by Sam Jack and Grace A. Carroll
Animals 2022, 12(11), 1461; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12111461 - 4 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3319
Abstract
Several factors may influence cats’ length of stay (LoS) within the shelter environment. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential influence that baby schema (characteristic facial features of infants, related to perceived ‘cuteness’) has on cats’ length of stay (LoS) [...] Read more.
Several factors may influence cats’ length of stay (LoS) within the shelter environment. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential influence that baby schema (characteristic facial features of infants, related to perceived ‘cuteness’) has on cats’ length of stay (LoS) in an animal shelter. Other factors such as paired-homing requirements, adoption profile (adverts to encourage the adoption of a specific animal) wording, coat colour, sex and age were also explored. Objective ‘cuteness’ scores were created by measuring specific facial features of 165 shelter cats. Several proportions of the cats’ faces were explored to identify the best objective measure of cuteness, including elements which have been found to associate with cuteness in cats and humans and new exploratory eye measurements. Subjective cuteness scores were developed by participants rating the ‘cuteness’ of the cat from ‘1-Not very cute’ to ‘5-Extremely cute’ through two online surveys; survey 1 investigated the cats’ social nature as well as cuteness while the second only looked at cuteness. The subjective cuteness scores were used to validate the objective cuteness scores. The analysis found that subjective cuteness in survey 1 was the only variable of influence on LoS. A novel objective cuteness measurement was developed which reflects the eye shape associated with subjective cuteness scores. The current study found that cuteness may not be as influential on cats’ LoS in shelters as hypothesised. This research looks to understand factors which influence LoS to help identify potential methods to reduce time spent in shelters and improve the welfare of cats within these environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

21 pages, 1492 KiB  
Article
Cat Coat Color, Personality Traits and the Cat-Owner Relationship Scale: A Study with Cat Owners in Mexico
by Mónica Teresa González-Ramírez and René Landero-Hernández
Animals 2022, 12(8), 1030; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12081030 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5573
Abstract
Studies regarding the cat-owner bond are quite rare, and several aspects merit more research, including personality trait differences in cats related to coat color and the cat-owner relationship. The objectives of the study were to describe, from the perspective of their owners, the [...] Read more.
Studies regarding the cat-owner bond are quite rare, and several aspects merit more research, including personality trait differences in cats related to coat color and the cat-owner relationship. The objectives of the study were to describe, from the perspective of their owners, the personality traits of cats based on their coat colors and to evaluate the relationships among the Cat Owner Relationship Scale (CORS), its subscales and the traits of cats. Therefore, the CORS was translated into Spanish, and its psychometric properties were assessed. For the personality traits of cats, participants answered a 7-point Likert scale indicating the extent to which they agreed with the following characteristics in describing their cats: active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable. 211 cat owners living in Mexico participated. Owners perceived their cats as being bold and friendly. Gray cats had the highest score for being as shy, aloof and intolerant, while orange cats had the highest scores for being trainable, friendly and calm. Tabbies the highest for bold and active, tricolor cats for stubborn, and bicolor cats for tolerant. The 3 CORS subscales had adequate psychometric properties when evaluated separately. Cat-owner interaction was positively correlated with an active and friendly personality and negatively correlated with aloofness. Emotional closeness was positively correlated with an active, bold and friendly personality, and perceived cost was negatively correlated with boldness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

20 pages, 360 KiB  
Review
Conspecific and Human Sociality in the Domestic Cat: Consideration of Proximate Mechanisms, Human Selection and Implications for Cat Welfare
by Lauren R. Finka
Animals 2022, 12(3), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12030298 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 14603
Abstract
Sociality can be broadly defined as the ability and tendency of individuals to reside in social groups with either conspecifics and/or other species. More specifically, sociability relates to the ability and tendency of individuals to display affiliative behaviours in such contexts. The domestic [...] Read more.
Sociality can be broadly defined as the ability and tendency of individuals to reside in social groups with either conspecifics and/or other species. More specifically, sociability relates to the ability and tendency of individuals to display affiliative behaviours in such contexts. The domestic cat is one of the most globally popular companion animals and occupies a diverse range of lifestyles. Despite an arguably short period of domestication from an asocial progenitor, the domestic cat demonstrates an impressive capacity for both intra- and interspecific sociality and sociability. At the same time, however, large populations of domestic cats maintain various degrees of behavioural and reproductive autonomy and are capable of occupying solitary lifestyles away from humans and/or conspecifics. Within social groups, individuals can also vary in their tendency to engage in both affiliative and agonistic interactions, and this interindividual variation is present within free-living populations as well as those managed in confined environments by humans. Considerable scientific enquiry has focused on cats’ social behaviour towards humans (and conspecifics to a much lesser extent) in this latter context. Ontogeny and human selection, in addition to a range of proximate factors including social and environmental parameters and individual cat and human characteristics, have been highlighted as important moderators of cats’ sociability. Such factors may have important consequences regarding individuals’ adaptability to the diverse range of lifestyles that they may occupy. Where limitations to individuals’ social capacities do not enable sufficient adaption, compromises to their wellbeing may occur. This is most pertinent for cats managed by humans, given that the physical and social parameters of the cats’ environment are primarily dictated by people, but that positive human-selection for traits that enhance cats’ adaptability to such lifestyles appears to be limited. However, limitations in the availability and quality of evidence and equivocal findings may impede the current understanding of the role of certain factors in relation to cat sociability and associations with cat wellbeing, although such literature gaps also present important opportunities for further study. This review aims to summarise what is currently known about the various factors that may influence domestic cats’ sociality and sociability towards both humans and conspecifics, with a predominant focus on cats managed by humans in confined environments. Current limitations, knowledge gaps, and implications for cat wellbeing are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cats Behaviors, Cognition and Human-Cat Interactions)
Back to TopTop