Claire followed on Saturday a training given by Colette Pillonel, behaviouristic veterinarian, and organized by Philippe Bocion, also behavioristic veterinarian. Who is the cat ? Where does he come from ? How does he live ? What are his needs ? Why ?
It was fascinating ! Here are in brief some points of this presentation :
The current carnivores (wolf, dog, fox, cat, tiger, lynx, bear, otter, weasel, badger, raccoon, genette, chive, hyena, …) have all one distant common ancestor : the Miacidae, a small primitive carnivore which lived 60 million years ago. Incredible, right ?
The first wildcats, the ancestors of the domestic cat, appear 2 million years ago.
The « domestic » cat appears 10000 years ago ; his ancestor is the wildcat of Africa. It looks like the cat got domesticated by himself, and that the human and him found a mutual profit in this cohabitation.
This process involves a controlled detention, the breeding, the abolition or the control of some behavior considered as unwanted (flight or aggressiveness), the control of the sexual behavior, the training, the possibility of manipulating the animal, of communicating with him, and the control of his strength.
We do not meet all these criteria, and all the domestic cats are not at the same stage of this process : 15 % of them are even resistant to any manipulation : the wildcat is not far !
The purebred cats (except the recent experimental crossings with wild cats, forbidden in Switzerland) are often better domesticated than their alley cousins, because the breeders select the “best” individuals to reproduce.
We are more successful than humans : we see in the daytime and at night, we perceive the ultrasounds, our sense of smell is 14x more developed, our sense of balance is ultra successful (except when we sleep), our tactile hairs are sensitive to the slightest breath of air, and we communicate in a very precise manner by chemical messages (pheromones).
Hunt, play, climb, eat, drink, eliminate, have a wash, sleep : that seems easy, right ? The Swiss Protection of Animals gives you details here.
A cat can be perfectly happy in apartment, as far as his environment fulfills ALL his needs. It is thus necessary to adapt the environment to the cat, and not the opposite…
The cat is a solitary who can be sociable. There is not really hierarchy by cats, but rather some sense of opportunity : the one who arrives first, who is placed the highest, who is in the best place, or still who will know how to be the most curious in a given circumstance will have the advantage.
Territory and schedule
The cat is territorial, and follows a ritualized time organization. Each part of his territory has a very particular function ; it also depends on the moment of the day. Any modification of his spatial or temporal organization is usually very stressful for the cat.
Good to know
Unwanted behavior appears when the cat’s needs are not respected. If all the future cat owners inquired in detail about our needs, and about the various manners to meet them, there would be almost no more rescue cats…