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Predatory Behaviour and Social Play in Kittens

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This study relates changes in social play of kittens to the development of predatory behaviour. Firstly, it documents the development of predatory motor patterns in young cats between the age of 4 and 12 weeks. Correlations between measures of predatory behaviour were found to break down in the 8 to 12 week period of development. Secondly, it examines the development of social play over the same time course. Correlations between some measures of play were also found to break down between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Finally, measures of social play were correlated with measures of predatory behaviour before and after 8 weeks of age. Some measures of play were found to show increased correlations with predatory behaviour as kittens grew older, others were found to show less association with age. It is concluded that these changes in association between measures of play and predation probably reflect a reorganization of play behaviour. Different play patterns appeared to progressively come under separate types of control as kittens developed. Some patterns were becoming controlled by the same factors as those controlling predatory behaviour, others by those factors that control agonistic behaviour. In addition, the relationship between the timing of the onset of social play and predatory behaviour is examined.

Affiliations: 1: Psychology Department, University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland


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