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How is developing the cat’s behavior ?

Just like the human baby, the kitten is not “finished” at the birth yet : he completely depends on her mother (or a maternal substitute), and still has to develop physically and mentally. He will moreover keep evolving throughout his life. Did you know for example that even an old cat can still learn things ?

During certain short phases of the kitten’s development, learnings specific to every period will be facilitated. Outside these phases, these learnings can only be made with difficulty, or then will be imperfect. He is thus crucial not to miss these stages : we’ll tell you about it more in detail in a next article.

How is developing the cat’s behavior ?

Every cat has his character and behavior of his/her own, but all the cats share some behavior appropriate to the species “cat”.

Several behaviors are present since birth : some will last all the life (for example yawning), while other will disappear later (for example the reflex of suction).

Other behaviors will appear later : some will last all the life (for example urinary marking), others can disappear (for example the fear of humans).

Innate or acquired ?

The reflexes as the reflex of suction or the locomotion are innate, but the majority of the behaviors are mainly acquired. The characteristics of a breed regarding behavior are rather the fruit of the choice of the breeders as for their breedings, and the genetic transmission plays here a role less important than an environment. On the other hand, the physical characteristics of a cat (size, color, form of ears, length of hairs, …) are very strongly under the influence of the genetics.

Can my cat forget some behaviors ?

Yes : learnings realized by habituation or by socialization with other species must be maintained throughout the cat’s life.

Habituation consists in being frequently confronted in a progressive, repeated, and positive way with situations, noises, visual stimulations, …, in order to develop your capacity of adaptation to live in diverse environments. A positive strengthening encourages the cat to redo (or not) an action according to the obtained result (attention, treat, …).

A big part of the learnings by habituation is made between the 2nd and 9th week of life (mainly between the 3rd and 7th week), but it’s as well by habituation that we can teach something a grown-up cat : the wished behavior will be every time strengthened by a reward.

This way of doing can be used to accustom the cat to an object which let him react (vacuum cleaner for example), but warning ! If you go too fast, if you force your cat, you’ll obtain the inverse result : your cat will have aggravated reactions, will be even more frightened, and can even be aggressive. It’s what we call the sensitization.

The period convenient to the learning of “friendly species” is the same that the one for habituation : between the 2nd and the 9th week of life (mainly between the 3rd and 7th week). During this phase, the kitten learns to become friend with humans, but also with other species if there is in his environment (dogs, rabbits, …).

Again, a frequent, repeated, and progressive confrontation, made by positive interactions with any sorts of people (or of species) will allow afterward a good cohabitation with these people or these species (and the absence of predation). Humans’ big variety is necessary in any case to obtain a cat with a real sense of himself : children of any ages, elderly, men, women, with or without glasses, with a cane or a wheelchair, …

This capacity to recognize “friendly species” can be developed afterward, but it’s even much longer, much more difficult, sometimes impossible for some cats.

The momcats and the humans by whom cats are born thus have a big responsibility on their future well-being ! And when you’ll have read our article on the kitten’s development (coming soon), you’ll also understand better our unlimited admiration for the humans who take care of orphan kittens.

Sources :
Philippe Bocion «Le développement du comportement du chat» (training)
Valérie Dramard «Le comportement du chat» (book)

What is a cat ?

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 :

Family tree

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.
the wildcat is not far


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…
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…
home sweet home

Start of the school year : is your cat ready ? 5 tips to leave the rhythm of the holidays

Do you smell it, Pixie ? This reeks of start of the school year ! The school bag is ready, pens are new, there is some excitement in the air, no doubt : here we go again !
It smells like back-to-school !
We, cats, love routine : we feel immediately when something is going to change. We feel the stress of back to work or to school, and we witness your preparations with disapproval.
Pixie's disapproving look
The more the change of rhythm is important, the more we hate it, and the more we risk to let you know that we miss you by more or less moved unusual behavior.

PIXIE : We really cannot go to school with Claire ? I read the history of Splat the Cat well, school sounds swell !
ZORRO : Shy as you are, I would like to see you with 20 children around you, hi hi…
Shy Pixie

5 tips to help your cat leave the rhythm of holidays

  • Adopt a routine which can be kept all year round for the meals.
  • Resume gradually the rhythm “work” by decreasing little by little your presence time at home. Ideally, this transition should be made during ten to fifteen days.
  • Get up a little earlier to have time to play with your cat before leaving.
  • Occupy your cat while he’s home alone : offer him a tree to climb, toys, hide croquettes in diverse places, …
  • Take time to play a moment with your cat when you come back before beginning other activities : yes, your schedule is loaded, but there are priorities.

The advice above is valid for all humans on holiday, big and small. And if you have children, they will take advantage just as much as your cat of this smooth return to the working life.
Back to working life

In the canton of Vaud, the teachers will get back on the way to school next week, and the children will begin on the 22nd. And at your home, have the children already gone back the school ?

Many thanks to the talented Glogirly for our wonderful back-to-school header.