Doctoral Researcher Salla Mikkola from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Center wanted to look into what causes behavior problems in cats such as fearfulness, aggression towards people and excessive grooming.
What they found out is important, and that is socialization when cats are kittens with people is very important. Cats under the age of twelve weeks who only came in contact with strange people and children a few times or more fearful than kittens who interacted with strangers on a weekly basis. Fearful cats had more litterbox, aggression and excessive grooming issues.
The researchers noted that there were less fearfulness and aggression in cats when the cat lived with another cat.
Sue’s Note: People tend to associate socialization with puppies and dogs but it is just as important to socialize cats. This should include handling all body parts, grooming, traveling in a vehicle, being put in a carrier, and exposure to noise that is not excessively loud. It is very important to make sure that the cat is not physically handicapped which can cause the cat to become frightened. For example, my cat was born with limited vision that is not detectable by a physical examination and was only apparent by observing her behavior. Many people do not realize that cats are very social and do best if there is at least one other cat in the home.
Salla Mikkola, Milla Salonen, Emma Hakanen, Hannes Lohi. Fearfulness associates with problematic behaviors and poor socialization in cats. iScience, 2022; 25 (10): 105265 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105265