Practical feline behaviour understanding cat behaviour and improving welfare

(Axel Boer) #1



The old saying ‘The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know’ is one
that can certainly be applied to the behaviour of the domestic cat. On the surface, cats
can seem to be simple, uncomplicated creatures that do little more than eat, sleep and
take up room on our most comfortable chair or in front of the fire. But the more that
you learn about their behaviour, the more interesting and complex they reveal them-
selves to be.
Historically, general interest and knowledge of the health, welfare and behaviour
of our pet cats has taken second place behind that of our canine companions. That
was certainly very true when I started out as a veterinary nurse more than 30 years
ago. Even some 10 years or so later when I went on to study companion animal
behaviour, the focus was still primarily on the behaviour of dogs. But things are
changing; although there is still more scientific interest and research into canine
behaviour, research into and resulting knowledge of feline behaviour is most defi-
nitely increasing and improving. However, in comparison to the number of books
available on canine behaviour, there are still very few that concentrate solely on feline
behaviour, especially those based on scientific research, and of those that do exist
most are targeted primarily at students of companion animal behaviour and/or the
veterinary professions. In fact, when this book was proposed, initially as a follow on
from Stephanie Hedges’ excellent ‘Practical Canine Behaviour’, the target audience
was to be specifically veterinary nurses and technicians. But after some consideration
and discussion with the wonderful people at CABI, it was decided to widen this to
include anyone with an interest in feline behaviour, especially, but not exclusively, for
those with a professional interest.
The book is divided into two parts. The first section should help to increase
understanding of normal feline behaviour: the evolution of the domestic cat, how cats
perceive the world around them, how they communicate, hunt, reproduce and learn,
as well as how aspects such as physical health, stress and behaviour are closely linked.
The second section provides advice and information for specific groups of people
involved with the care of cats: breeders, current and prospective cat owners, veteri-
nary professionals, shelter and cattery workers, and others. But whatever heading you
feel that you fit under, reading all these chapters should provide an overall picture of
good feline care and behavioural welfare.

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