Individual variation in onset of behavioural traits in the domestic cat (Felis catus) as assessed by owner/carer survey

Smith, Rachael (2019) Individual variation in onset of behavioural traits in the domestic cat (Felis catus) as assessed by owner/carer survey. Masters thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Individual variation in onset of behavioural traits in the domestic cat (Felis catus) as assessed by owner/carer survey
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Abstract

he prenatal maternal environment is known to play a role in lifetime development of a large number of species but has received relatively little attention in the domestic cat (Felis catus). We surveyed anatomical and behavioural onsets in 251 home reared kittens from 66 litters from pedigree (n=28) and non-pedigree queens (n=38) during the first 8 weeks of life using owner/carer records. Multifactorial analysis was used to assess associations between a range of factors including: breed, age and temperament of the queen (Queen’s Friendliness Rating or QFR); size and sex ratio of litters; and individual birth weight on a number of developmental milestones including: onset of eye opening; tooth eruption; movement from nest; play; solid feeding; and use of litter tray.

Pedigree Asian breeds produced larger litters with lower average birth weight than pedigree Western breeds or non-pedigree queens. Kittens from larger litters (5 or more kittens) opened their eyes earlier than smaller litters, however, they had a generally delayed onset of subsequent developmental milestones with the exception of use of the litter tray. Kittens from older queens (over 2 years of age) showed earlier onsets of eye opening, but later tooth eruption, play and movement from nest than kittens derived from younger queens.

Queens rated as being unfriendly to humans produced litters with a female bias. Litters from friendly queens showed earlier tooth eruption, solid feeding and litter tray use but delayed object play compared to litters from less friendly queens. These results support previous work on the influence of breed and litter size on kitten development, but also indicate age and temperament of the queen may influence developmental milestones. The picture is however complex, with advanced early milestones (such as eye opening) often associated with delayed later milestones such as locomotion and play.

Keywords:Kitten development milestones, cat breed, queen temperament
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:47499
Deposited On:07 Dec 2021 16:20

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