One of the most stressful challenges for a breeder relates to the harmony within and between the cats. If the cats are not happy, health and morale suffers. For me, this is a number one priority.
Watch the video on the section about cat behavior:
- Human-cat relationship continues to be somewhat more tenuous than the human-dog relationship. Dogs were domesticated quite some time before cats.
- Strong, instinctual behaviors remain because of the short domestication period. The predatory instinct is strong. Our challenge is to support this need so that cats have appropriate mental stimulation.
- Free-living cats are selectively social, living in colonies of mothers-daughters. Males are allowed in for breeding on a rather selective basis.
- Cats can find it highly stressful to be forced to share living space with other cats they do not like. Competition for resources (human attention, food, space) can cause conflict. Some cats are more social than others, especially if raised together.
- Socialization window for cats is between 2-7 weeks of age. They are more likely to cope with new situations if properly socialized during this time.
- Cats in homes form social groupings. Signs it has occurred include: grooming, nose-to-nose greeting and sleeping together.
- Scent profile of environment is key. They rub on everything and prefer familiar smell. If there is a disruption (new cat, new furniture, large number of visitors), cats can stress. Marking behaviors can occur. They will mark their territory if threatened. See below for more detail
- Paying attention to natural groupings within your home is key. They choose their social groupings. We need to respect and support that.
- Breeders need to help select the most social kittens for homes with more than one cat to increase the likelihood of positive social groupings. This is especially important with adults.
- Socializing kittens needs to be taken seriously. Reducing the number of litters will prove beneficial as full attention needs to be on the mother and kittens during the period of socialization. Pet owners need to pay attention to the environment from which their kittens come from. Happy kittens come from happy environments.