Distinguishing Play and Fight Behaviors in Cats

Distinguishing Play and Fight Behaviors in Cats

Study Shows House Cats Play Games Rather Than Fight

A new study by Slovak and British researchers published in Science Advances sets out to help cat owners distinguish between when cats are playing and when they may be starting to fight.

The team coordinated by Noema Gajdoš-Kmecová, from Kosice University of Veterinary Medicine in Slovakia, evaluated 105 videos of interactions between 210 cats.

Successful interpretation of cat-to-cat social interactions is “an important part of welfare compliance for cats in multi-cat households and helps reduce the risk of additional undesirable behaviors, such as house soiling problems,” the authors explain.

The authors classified cats into three groups: the playful group (56.2%), the agonistic group (28.6%), and the intermediate group (15.2%), which exhibited a mix of both playful and aggressive behaviors. The study also highlighted six behaviors categories to group cats, including fighting, chasing, and vocalizing.

The authors suggest that this combination of playful and aggressive behaviors can sometimes lead to a fully agonistic encounter. They have also noted that detecting early signs of tension between cats is key for owners to manage their relationship, helping to avoid major problems that could result in one or both cats being put down.

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