A cat’s behavior includes the way it acts and the habits it adopts in its daily life, as well as the language it uses to communicate and interact with individuals and the stimuli in their environment: the domestic cat and its character are defined throughout its life. Although we can approach a logical definition of feline behavior, we still have much to discover about the nature of cats and their forms of expression.
The domestic cat and its character
A domestic cat’s behavior and temperament can vary considerably, depending on several factors. We will tell you a little more about them:
-Genetics: the character of cats is closely related to their genetic make-up, up to 30%, which includes the characteristics of the breed and the parents. Thus, when felines have a scary character, it is very likely that they will pass it on to their children. Moreover, for example, the character of the European Cat will be different from the character of red cats.
-Socialization: The socialization of kittens directly influences the character of the adult domestic cat. This period, which ranges from two weeks to seven weeks, is considered a “sensitive stage” because this is when the recognition of “friendly species” takes place. Therefore, when socializing kittens, we need to ensure that they interact positively with all kinds of people, animals, and environments, without producing stress in the domestic cat.
-Learning: education and the environment in which it has developed provides the domestic cat with an experience that will have a direct impact on their behavior. While genetics and socialization play a very important role, learning is essential in cats, which are domestic animals with very high cognitive abilities.
Thus, each domestic cat can show a unique character, even when talking about siblings that have grown up together and have had similar experiences. Although some behaviors are species-specific, the three factors we have detailed above are those that will directly influence a cat’s character and behavior. This is why the task of training a cat, since it is small, is so important.
The behavior of the domestic cat
A cat’s behavior varies mainly according to its age, whether the domestic cat is a kitten, an adult cat, or a cat at the end of its life. Thus, we can observe that kittens are much more playful and curious, while older cats tend to show a calmer behavior throughout the day.
Next, we’ll talk a little bit about what to expect about the cat’s behavior at each stage of its life :
Kittens are not born with a definite trait, although, as mentioned, there are personality traits that will be associated with the behavior of the species or genetics.
After birth, kittens are entirely dependent on their mother until 9 or 15 days of age, when they begin to move. This is also when their socialization period begins. For this reason, in this stage, it will be essential to socialize the kittens positively.
We will let them interact with people, animals, and elements of the environment so that they can become familiar with them and thus avoid the appearance of fears or other undesirable behaviors. All of this will lead to balanced behavior in adulthood.
From 4 or 5 weeks of age, the socialization period begins to end at the same time as the gradual weaning, and we will start to observe new behaviors in the kittens. Living with their mother and siblings will allow them to learn the language and communication of cats, the basis of their social behavior. The domestic cat and its character are then formed at this time.
We will observe that they begin to eat small amounts of food by themselves, use the litter box and bury their feces, the appearance of grooming themselves and other individuals, social play with their peers, predatory behavior, and social behavior in general.
At this time, it will be essential to use positive reinforcement for our house cat (treats, kind words, or petting) to encourage the cats to show behaviors that we consider positive, such as using the scratching post, being handled, or sleeping in bed. We must agree with all family members on the behaviors to reinforce, this way we will get better results.
Later, from 7 weeks of life until puberty, domestic cats begin their juvenile period, which is characterized by the appearance of sexual behaviors. At this time it will be fundamental to go to your veterinarian to inform you about the benefits of castrating cats, for the prevention of certain types of cancer or marking with urine at home.
The behavior of the adult domestic cat
The adult domestic cat’s behavior and character will be greatly influenced by the transition, socialization, and youth stages, although they will continue to learn throughout their lives.
If you have ensured positive experiences for your domestic cat, the most likely thing is that your cat will behave normally and in a balanced way, although this may be slightly influenced by breed or genetics. However, there is no such thing as predictable behavior in adult domestic cats, on the contrary, each cat will be able to develop its character and temperament.
Despite this, in general, we can observe that adult cats are territorial animals, which cling firmly to their routine as a means of preserving their well-being. Sudden changes often lead to stress in cats, which affects not only their behavior but also their health.
At this stage, it will be essential to continue to stimulate the cats’ play and social behavior through daily activities and affection. We will avoid boredom and sedentary routines, focusing on environmental enrichment, which is essential for the management of stable behavior and ideal weight in cats.
If you observe changes in your domestic cat’s character, you will urgently go to a veterinarian, because you should know that these animals usually hide the pain, anxiety, and other problems very well until they are already in an advanced state. Regular veterinary visits, every six or twelve months, will be essential to ensure their good physical and mental health, as well as to detect any abnormalities earlier before they get worse.
From 10 to 12 years of age, we will observe the appearance of the first symptoms of old age in cats, both physical and behavioral. At this stage, the domestic cat spends more time resting, requires more care and affection, is not as active, and may begin to develop health problems. It will be essential to continue to encourage play and daily routines, even for a shorter period.
The domestic cat and its character with humans
Finally, let’s talk a little bit about the behavior of the domestic cat and its character with human beings, especially the relationship they have with their guardians.
Cats’ survival instincts lead them to cling to a routine and defend their territory, but also greatly influence their relationship with people. In general, it is quite normal for cats not to immediately approach a stranger, although there are of course some very sociable house cats that enjoy contact with people.
Cats tend to avoid people they don’t know, those who are particularly noisy or those who want to catch them. If your domestic cat can’t run away and feels trapped, she may meow or scratch. If they are ignored, they may even attack.
Therefore, if you are trying to rescue or help abandoned cats it will be important to be very patient and try to gain the feline’s trust to approach.
But if we talk about the relationship between cats and their guardian, we assume that it is a relationship based on affection and trust. Of course, cats cannot be expected to act like dogs, because they are a different species.
At the same time, felines tend to be more independent animals that often opt for a more solitary lifestyle in their natural state: the domestic cat has a rather solitary and independent character.
Therefore, although cats understand that we provide optimal conditions for their development and give them affection, cats do not see us as referents, as dogs do, but as members of their community (or family, to put it in more “human” terms).
Thus, the way they show affection to their guardians will be very similar to the way they express their appreciation for other cats. To find out more about showing affection in the feline world, at PlanèteAnimal we show you 10 signs that your cat loves you.
Behaviour of the domestic cat in heat
Finally, we need to talk about the behavior of cats in heat, the domestic cat, and its character during the heat period. It is important to know that sexual behavior is totally instinctive and that it causes changes in their organism and behavior. Influenced by the hours of light, the weather and other individuals, zeal in cats cause certain behaviors, such as :
Although there are certain contraceptive methods for cats that avoid the appearance of these symptoms, such as heat injection, we must be aware that they also have serious health side effects. The only effective way to prevent them completely is castration. Consult your veterinarian for more information.