The Social Structure Of Cats

By September 02 | See Comments

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The Social Structure Of Cats

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Unlike humans and dogs, cats are solitary creatures. This doesn't mean that they cannot exist in groups but rather that they don't feel the need to socialize. Most felines are like this, with the exception of lions. Cat owners often wonder why cats don't show affection openly – the answer is simple, they don't have the need for affection or socializing like humans. Depending on the food resources and the number of cats in an area, some feral cats do form groups but this is more for protection than for companionship.How social a cat is also depends on it's owners. For example, if you bring a kitten home and

train it to play

and interact with other humans and pets then it most likely will grow up and retain the same characteristics. However, even in these cases cats do need their alone time.

Territory

Most cats have their own territory where they feel secure enough to eat, sleep and even interact with other cats. This area is established through scents from their facial glands, anal glands, urine and feces. Dividing an area into territories reduces conflicts amongst cats, especially feral ones. If a random cat enters another cat's territory, it is likely to be chased off or get into a fight.For house cats, their territorial areas are less defined as they consider the entire house to be their safe area. When another cat is introduced in the house, they either form separate territories or live together. They often do not feel the need to interact with each other even when living together, unless the owner initiates it.

Colonies

Feral cats often form colonies for food, protection and offspring rearing. Interestingly, unlike humans, cat colonies are female-centered and tend to have loose hierarchies. Male cats tend to roam around and mix with different groups, based on the female's decision to either accept or reject him. Female cats raise all their kittens together and will feed each others kittens if needed. Some female cats also act as midwives for other cats giving birth.While the social structure works well, it is not as set as dog packs or other canine packs. The Alpha Cat is often easily replaced and controls only certain areas. With environmental changes, alpha cats may not be considered alpha cats anymore. This could also happen when new cats are introduced into the group.Within the house, cats view petting as mutual grooming. Cats that bury their feces likely consider their humans to be the Alpha Cat in that situation.To put it simply, cats are social creatures but their socializing is not the same as ours. They can form long-term relationships, groups and some even experience separation anxiety.

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