Lowe, S.E. and Bradshaw, J.W.S.
Responses of pet cats to being held by an unfamiliar person, from weaning to three years of age
Anthrozoos, 15, (1), .
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We have determined the extent to which individual responses of domestic cats on being handled by an unfamiliar person are stable between 2 and 33 months of age. Twenty-nine household cats from nine litters were tested at 2, 4, 12, 24 and 33 months of age, by being held for 1 minute by a standard, unfamiliar person. Between 4 and 33 months of age, individual differences in the number of attempts made by the cat to escape, and in whether or not it showed signs of distress, were stable, with the partial exception of the test at 12 months. There was no consistency between tests in whether or not a particular cat purred. At 2 months of age, the number of escape attempts was highest in cats which had been handled the least in the second month of life, but this trend was reversed in the number of escape attempts made at 4 months. The lack of distress exhibited by all cats in the test at 2 months indicated that all had received at least adequate socialization to people, and that none were therefore comparable with the unsocialized cats used in several previous studies. We conclude that under normal domestic conditions, the behavior of a cat when handled by an unfamiliar person reflects a stable character trait, and that extensive handling during the socialization period may be subsequently associated with a reduction in inhibited behavior when interacting with an unfamiliar perso
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