Practical feline behaviour understanding cat behaviour and improving welfare

(Axel Boer) #1

Social, Feeding and Predatory Behaviour 55

conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts, which is understandable because domestic
cats can be efficacious predators of small mammals, birds and reptiles and are
reported to have been at least partly responsible for the extinction of several endan-
gered species, and may pose a serious threat to many more (Medina et al., 2011;
Thomas et al., 2012).There is, however, some debate as to whether cats are sometimes
given disproportionate blame for changes in wildlife populations and that other fac-
tors, such as habitat disruption and predation by wild animals, are sometimes disre-
garded or overlooked (Bradshaw, 2013).
The impact that cats have on wildlife populations can depend greatly on the
environment. Unique and isolated fauna on small islands can be at most risk from
introduced cats and the eradication of feral cats from some islands has resulted in the
dramatic recovery in the populations of previously threatened species (Cooper et al.,
1995). However, cats can also help to effectively control the population of rats and
other introduced species that can pose a threat to wildlife or their habitat. In some
instances, the eradication of cats has put endangered species at greater rather than
reduced risk (Karl and Best, 1982; Dickman, 2009). For example, on one Pacific
island the removal of cats resulted in a dramatic increase in the rabbit population,
resulting in severe damage to the environment and devastating consequences for the
indigenous wildlife and nesting seabirds (Bergstrom et al., 2009).


Adamec, R.E. (1976) The interaction of hunger and preying in the domestic cat (Felis catus):
an adaptive hierarchy? Behavioral Biology 18, 263–272.
Allaby, M. and Crawford, P. (1982) The Curious Cat. Michael Joseph, London.
Bartoshuk, L.M., Jacobs, H.L., Nichols, T.L., Hoff, L.A. and Ryckman, J.J. (1975) Taste rejection of
nonnutritive sweeteners in cats. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 89, 971.
Bergstrom, D.M., Lucieer, W., Kiefer, K., Wasley, J., Belbin, L., Pedersen, T.K. and Chown, S.L.
(2009) Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island. Journal
of Applied Ecology 49, 73–81.
Biben, M. (1979) Predation and predatory play behaviour of domestic cats. Animal Behaviour
27, 81–94.
Bowlby, J. (1988) A Secure Base. Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory. Routledge,
Abingdon, UK.
Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2013) Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed. Allen Lane, Penguin
Books, London.
Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2016a) Sociality in cats: a comparative review. Journal of Veterinary
Behavior 11, 113–124.
Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2016b) What is a cat, and why can cats become stressed or distressed?
In: Ellis, S. and Sparkes, A. (eds) The ISFM Guide to Feline Stress and Health.
International Cat Care, Tisbury, Wiltshire, UK.
Bradshaw, J.W.S. and Hall, S.L. (1999) Affiliative behaviour of related and unrelated pairs of
cats in catteries: a preliminary report. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 63, 251–255.
Bradshaw, J.W.S., Casey, R.A. and Brown, S.L. (2012) The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat,
2nd edn. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.
Cole, D.D. and Shafer, J.N. (1966) A study of social dominance in cats. Behaviour 27, 39–52.
Cooper, J., Marais, A.V.N., Bloomer, J.P. and Bester, M.N. (1995) A success story: breeding
of burrowing petrels (Procellariidae) before and after the eradication of feral cats Felis
catus at subantarctic Marion Island. Marine Ornithology 23, 33–37.

Free download pdf