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Behavioural aspects defining male dominance in feral farm cats (Felis silvestris catus)

Behavioural aspects defining male dominance in feral farm cats (Felis silvestris catus)
Behavioural aspects defining male dominance in feral farm cats (Felis silvestris catus)

Free-ranging adult males at two United Kingdom farms were radiotracked to determine home ranges.  Home ranges were overlapping, although some contained exclusive sections, and all overlapped with female ranges.  Core areas remained similar for all males, and were centred around the main human-mediated resource areas of the farms.  Ranges and activity levels were affected by time of day.  The size of the home range also correlated positively with body weight and age of the individual.  At both farms, an older and heavier male was identified as having a significantly larger range than the other males.  One of these males frequently travelled beyond radiotracking range and appeared to engage in aggressive bouts during these trips, suggesting the occurrence of resource defence.

Microsatellite analysis of the cats was carried out using DNA obtained from hair samples, in order to measure reproductive success of the individual males.  It was found that the older, heavier, wider-ranging and higher-ranking males achieved the greatest rates of reproductive success, but genetic variability was low and some inbreeding was suspected.  These males, although now classed as dominant, did not, however, completely monopolise mating opportunities; subordinate males from the farms and unknown males were also found to be fathering kittens in both study areas, suggesting a mating strategy whereby all males maximised their own reproductive success, but this remained relative to their rank within their home colony.  Dominant males seeking resources outside their home colony most likely suffered a loss in rank in achieving mating success.

Such successful mating system for relatively few males should be considered in the context of the domestic pet cat population, which is subject to heavy neutering rates yet continues to escalate, and the potential problems of a reduced gene pool must be addressed.

University of Southampton
D'Sa, Candida Anne
D'Sa, Candida Anne

D'Sa, Candida Anne (2003) Behavioural aspects defining male dominance in feral farm cats (Felis silvestris catus). University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Free-ranging adult males at two United Kingdom farms were radiotracked to determine home ranges.  Home ranges were overlapping, although some contained exclusive sections, and all overlapped with female ranges.  Core areas remained similar for all males, and were centred around the main human-mediated resource areas of the farms.  Ranges and activity levels were affected by time of day.  The size of the home range also correlated positively with body weight and age of the individual.  At both farms, an older and heavier male was identified as having a significantly larger range than the other males.  One of these males frequently travelled beyond radiotracking range and appeared to engage in aggressive bouts during these trips, suggesting the occurrence of resource defence.

Microsatellite analysis of the cats was carried out using DNA obtained from hair samples, in order to measure reproductive success of the individual males.  It was found that the older, heavier, wider-ranging and higher-ranking males achieved the greatest rates of reproductive success, but genetic variability was low and some inbreeding was suspected.  These males, although now classed as dominant, did not, however, completely monopolise mating opportunities; subordinate males from the farms and unknown males were also found to be fathering kittens in both study areas, suggesting a mating strategy whereby all males maximised their own reproductive success, but this remained relative to their rank within their home colony.  Dominant males seeking resources outside their home colony most likely suffered a loss in rank in achieving mating success.

Such successful mating system for relatively few males should be considered in the context of the domestic pet cat population, which is subject to heavy neutering rates yet continues to escalate, and the potential problems of a reduced gene pool must be addressed.

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Published date: 2003

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 465280
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/465280
PURE UUID: 22b86e08-d144-499e-bfbe-98cd46d61cc4

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 00:34
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 04:47

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Contributors

Author: Candida Anne D'Sa

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