Nav: Home

Delayed weaning reduces behavioral problems in cats

September 13, 2017

The cat is the most popular companion animal, and people are increasingly interested in its wellbeing. One of the topics under international debate is the weaning age, i.e., the age at which kittens are separated from their mother and siblings and brought to a new home. In Finland, the recommended minimum age of weaning is 12 weeks, but in many other countries, such as the United States, weaning of kittens as young as 8 weeks is common.

It has previously been thought that the critical period of socialisation in cats ends by 8 weeks of age, after which social experiences have little impact on behaviour.

"We found that positive changes in the cat's behaviour can occur after the currently recommended age of weaning, 12 weeks. I'm a cat lover myself, and this study supports my own previous experiences on the importance of the weaning age on the wellbeing of cats. I think raising the recommended age of weaning would be the animal welfare act of the year," says doctoral student Milla Ahola.

While the detrimental effects of early weaning have been studied in some other animal species, no studies on the topic have been conducted on cats, despite suspicions of its connection to feline behavioural problems.

"We found an easy way to improve cat welfare: we propose that the recommended age of weaning be increased by two weeks. The number of cats in the world is immense, and behavioural problems are very common. This could have a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of both cats and their owners on a global scale," says Professor Hannes Lohi.

The study used the results from the health and behaviour survey Professor Lohi's group had previously conducted on nearly 6,000 cats, currently the most extensive cat behaviour database in the world. According to the survey, many behavioural problems are more common than expected. More than 80% of cats were reported as exhibiting mild behavioural problems, while serious behavioural problems were reported for 25% of all cats. Feline behavioural problems can include shyness, stereotypic wool sucking, excessive grooming and aggression.

"The age of weaning has an impact on the cat's later behaviour. Cats weaned under the age of 8 weeks displayed more aggression and stereotypic behaviour. Cats weaned in adulthood had fewer such problems than other cats. Cats weaned at 14 weeks of age had fewer behavioural problems than cats weaned earlier," explains Ahola.

Studies on other animal species have produced similar results. For example, among rodents, monkeys and minks, early separation from the mother leads to a higher prevalence of stereotypic behaviour and aggression. A similar phenomenon has been found in humans.

"These behavioural changes are also linked. We found that increased aggression correlated with increased stereotypic behaviour. The impacts of early weaning seem to manifest specifically as aggression and stereotypic behaviour, which suggests changes in the neurotransmitters of the basal ganglia," states Professor Lohi.
-end-
Professor Hannes Lohi's research group works in the University of Helsinki's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Faculty of Medicine as well as at the Folkhälsan Research Centre. Professor Lohi's research has received support from Kissaliitto, the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, and the ERANET-NEURON network under the European Commission.

University of Helsinki

Related Aggression Articles:

Declawing linked to aggression and other abnormal behaviors in cats
According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery*, declawing increases the risk of long-term or persistent pain, manifesting as unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination (soiling/urinating outside of the litter box) and aggression/biting.
New study links brain stem volume and aggression in autism
New research from autism experts is providing clues into the link between aggression and autism -- clues the team hopes will eventually lead to more effective intervention.
Direct link between sexual objectification of girls and aggression towards them
There is a direct relation between the sexual objectification of girls and aggression towards them, research by psychologists at the University of Kent has shown.
Transsexual people are frequently victims of aggression and discrimination
The process of gender reassignment in transsexual individuals is complex.
The hormone cortisol has been linked to increased aggression in 10-year-old boys
Spanish researchers have studied the relationship between hormones and aggressive behavior in girls and boys between the ages of 8 and 10.
Why is impulsive aggression in children so difficult to treat?
Maladaptive and impulsive aggression is explosive, triggered by routine environmental cues, and intended to harm another person, making it a significant challenge for clinicians, family members, and others who interact with affected children and adolescents.
Does sexual aggression alter the female brain?
Thirty percent of women worldwide experience some kind of physical or sexual assault during their lifetime.
Aggression causes new nerve cells to be generated in the brain
A group of neurobiologists from Russia and the USA, including Dmitry Smagin, Tatyana Michurina, and Grigori Enikolopov from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, have proven experimentally that aggression has an influence on the production of new nerve cells in the brain.
Orangutans: Lethal aggression between females
Researchers have for the first time witnessed the death of a female orangutan at the hands of another female.
Antidepressants double the risk of aggression and suicide in children
Children and adolescents have a doubled risk of aggression and suicide when taking one of the five most commonly prescribed antidepressants, according to findings of a study published in The BMJ today.

Related Aggression Reading:

Overcoming Passive-Aggression, Revised Edition: How to Stop Hidden Anger from Spoiling Your Relationships, Career, and Happiness
by Tim Murphy Ph.D. (Author), Loriann Hoff Oberlin (Author)

THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO OVERCOME HIDDEN ANGER IN YOUR LIFE.

Hostile humor, negative undertones, and silent standoffs--nearly everyone has experienced hidden anger at some point, whether at home, with friends, or at work or school. Even if it's done to avoid open conflict and keep the peace, habitually concealing anger becomes insidious. When people don't express their true views and emotions, it undermines harmony and can actually cause physical and psychological harm. Tim Murphy and Loriann Oberlin explain what passive-aggression is; show how to spot the... View Details


Odd Girl Out, Revised and Updated: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls
by Rachel Simmons (Author)

REVISED AND UPDATED
WITH NEW MATERIAL ON CYBERBULLYING AND
HELPING GIRLS HANDLE THE DANGERS OF LIFE ONLINE

When Odd Girl Out was first published, it became an instant bestseller and ignited a long-overdue conversation about the hidden culture of female bullying. Today the dirty looks, taunting notes, and social exclusion that plague girls’ friendships have gained new momentum in cyberspace.

In this updated edition, educator and bullying expert Rachel Simmons gives girls, parents, and educators proven and innovative strategies for navigating social dynamics in... View Details


Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football
by Cody Alexander (Author)

As the spread becomes more of the norm in all regions of this country it is important for coaches everywhere to have a resource for defending the modern spread offense. Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football is that resource for coaches. The schemes described in this book are tried and true methods for defending some of the best offenses this country has ever seen. Starting with "The Why" and ending with "The How." Cautious Aggression gives coaches a defensive philosophy they can trust. Using diagrams and concise explanations, the book lays out a formula for success for coaches to... View Details


Aggression Replacement Training: A Comprehensive Intervention for Aggressive Youth, Third Edition (Revised and Expanded)(CD included)
by Dr. Barry Glick (Author), Dr. John C. Gibbs (Author)

This is a newly-revised and expanded edition of the groundbreaking program originally developed by Dr. Arnold P. Goldstein and Dr. Barry Glick. Aggression Replacement Training ART offers a powerful intervention for teaching at-risk youth to understand and replace aggression and antisocial behavior with positive alternatives. Includes user-friendly session-by-session guidelines for implementation. The book provides a coordinated, three-part training approach: Prosocial Skills, Anger Control and Moral Reasoning for grades 6 to 12. The authors address trainee motivation and resistance, enhancing... View Details


Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression
by Jean Donaldson (Author)

Is it fear or bravado that causes some dogs to want to "take on" other dogs? Learn how to analyze the underlying causes for dog-dog aggression and retrain your dog so she can play nicely with others. View Details


The Dog Aggression System Every Dog Owner Needs
by Jackie Ferrier (Author)

How would your life change if you could improve your dog’s aggression?

The Dog Aggression System Every Dog Owner Needs includes a science-based, research-driven treatment plan you can adapt to your own particular situation. The plan will get you working on improving your dog’s aggression today, plus much, much more.

In addition to behavior modification The Dog Aggression System Every Dog Owner Needs reveals other ways to improve aggression such as enriching your dog’s environment; what you might change in your dog’s... View Details


On Aggression (Harvest Book, Hb 291)
by Konrad Lorenz (Author)

This work has had significant impact on the social and biological sciences and is now a classic point of reference for investigations of behavioral patterns. Lorenz presents his findings on the mechanism of aggression and how animals control destructive drives in the interest of the species. Translated by Marjorie Kerr Wilson. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
View Details


Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification
by Brenda Aloff (Author)

Brenda Aloff s book has become the bible for identifying, understanding, and resolving aggression problems in dogs. Contains detailed training protocols to use in specific types of aggression situations and how to manage the aggressive dog for his safety and the community's. View Details


The Social Psychology of Aggression: 2nd Edition (Social Psychology: A Modular Course (Paperback))
by Barbara Krahé (Author)

The second edition of this textbook provides a thoroughly revised, updated and expanded overview of social psychological research on aggression.

The first part of the book covers the definition and measurement of aggression, presents major theories and examines the development of aggression. It also covers the role of situational factors in eliciting aggression, and the impact of using violent media.

The second part of the book focuses on specific forms and manifestations of aggression. It includes chapters on aggression in everyday life, sexual aggression and domestic... View Details


Mastering Anger and Aggression - The Brazelton Way
by T. Berry Brazelton (Author), Joshua D. Sparrow (Author)

How to react when your toddler bites his playmate or your kindergartner confronts a bully? Drs. Brazelton and Sparrow bring their much-admired insight and support to this crucial, and ever more timely, childrearing challenge. From an early age, babies and toddlers need to assert themselves in a daunting world, yet eventually learn to do this without hurting others. After showing how aggression emerges at each age, Brazelton and Sparrow offer practical, wise advice on anger, fights, self-defense, the fears and nightmares that arise when children become aware of their own and others'... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Big Five
What are the five biggest global challenges we face right now — and what can we do about them? This hour, TED speakers explore some radical solutions to these enduring problems. Guests include geoengineer Tim Kruger, president of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband, political scientist Ian Bremmer, global data analyst Sarah Menker, and historian Rutger Bregman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#457 Trowel Blazing
This week we look at some of the lesser known historical figures and current public perception of anthropology, archaeology, and other fields that end in "ology". Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist, writer, and co-founder of the TrowelBlazers, tells us about the Raising Horizons project and how their team is trying to shine the spotlight on the forgotten historical women of archaeological, geological, and palaeontological science. And Kristina Killgrove, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida and science writer, talks about the public perception of the fields of anthropology and archeology, and how those science are represented -...