RVC study suggests owners misread signals
According to behaviourists, the results of a new study suggest that feline body language is largely misunderstood by their owners, earning them a reputation for being "aloof".
As part of the UK's first CatWatch Day, 600 people observed their cats' behaviour on May 6 and completed a survey.
Having analysed the results, Jon Bowen, animal behaviour consultant at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), says cats try to interact with their owners as they would a fellow feline.
"This communication is much more subtle than we are used to and is often missed by owners," he explains.
For example, owners often expect greetings to involve physical contact, yet a common cat greeting is to blink and then sit close but not touching.
Further, the findings suggest that cats adapt their behaviour to accommodate their owners' lifestyle. Cats involved in the study engaged in 40 per cent more activities when their owners were at home.
However, Jon says: "Owners did not rate their cats as more active at any time of day so there is a discrepancy between what owners think of as ‘activity’, and what cats actually do."
These findings have wider implications when it comes to feline health, as behavioural changes indicative of ill health may not be spotted.
"The results from CatWatch Day show that even devoted cat owners may miss the signs that their pet is under stress and so are not taking measures to prevent it," Jon says.
"If owners are tuned into their cat’s routine it will be easier to spot a change in frequency of feeding, greetings, play and amount of time spent outside."