Scientists have discovered ways to differentiate between playful and aggressive interactions between cats, new findings that may help people identify play and real fighting in their pets.
The research, published Thursday in the journal Scientific reportssuggests that cats can engage in a mixture of playful and aggressive behaviors that can escalate into a full-blown fight if not properly handled by their human companions.
In the study, scientists including Noema Gajdošâ€’Kmecová of the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Košice, Slovakia, evaluated more than 100 video clips of interactions between 210 cats sourced from YouTube and directly from owners. of cats.
The researchers were able to observe six types of behavioral categories in the felines, including wrestling, chasing and vocalization, which they then used to assess the remaining cats.
They grouped the cats according to the frequency and duration of the six behaviors.
Looking at the same videos, other authors of the study could propose three groups to define interactions: “playful”, “agonistic” or “intermediate” aggressive interactions, which is a mix of both playful and aggressive behaviors. .
According to the study, more than half of the cats exhibited playful interactions, while about 29% were labeled as agonists and 15% as intermediates.
Fighting behavior between cats was most closely related to the playful group, while vocalization and chasing were associated with the agonistic group, the scientists said.
The middle group, according to the researchers, although observed to have characteristics of both, was more closely related to the playful group.
They say the middle group showed prolonged exchanges of behaviors like lying on their backs with their stomachs up, pouncing, stalking, approaching and grooming.
Scientists say this mix of playful and aggressive behavior may reflect a short-term disagreement in social behavior between cats, rather than a “break in the relationship”.
“This could escalate into a totally agonistic encounter, but does not necessarily reflect a breakdown in their social relationship, but rather a short-term disagreement over social priorities,” the researchers wrote in the study.
Based on the study, the scientists claim that close cat interactions can be considered playful, intermediate, and agonistic.
Young cats who struggle, but don’t vocalize, “most likely play,” they say.
However, when there are prolonged inactive pauses between cats, as well as vocalizations and chases, the researchers say such interaction may not indicate mutual social play, but rather is “balanced by a degree of responsiveness agonistic”.
The researchers warn that interactions can differ from day to day, or even from occasion to day.
They call on pet owners to identify these potential tensions between felines because understanding them accurately can help manage cats to avoid escalation and potential injury.