Animal Behaviour

Topics: Cat, Felis, Felidae Pages: 6 (2195 words) Published: April 8, 2013
Assignment Title:
The Role of visual and auditory signals in feline communication.

Module: Animal Behaviour

Module Teacher: Emma Sidgreaves

Module Code: UIN XGG-20-1

UWE Number: 12027156

(2003 words, summary inclusive)

Contents Page Page Number Summary of Animal Behaviour2.
Introduction to Felines and their lifestyle3.
A Description of the Visual Signal 4-6. The Adaptive Function of the Visual Signal7.
How the Visual Signal Could be Recorded and Measured Practically8. A Description of the Auditory Signal9.
The Adaptive Function of the Auditory Signal10.
How the Auditory Signal could be Recorded and Measured Practically11. Conclusion12.
Reference List 13.

Summary of animal behaviour.
There are two main types of behaviour signals that animals show, these are visual and auditory. An example of a visual signal in felines is a cat displaying pilo-erection, and an example of auditory is when they hiss. The meanings and adaptive functions of both these signals will be explored, and the ways of documenting them effectively and practically are explained.

Introduction to Felines behaviour.
A definition of animal behaviour is the way in which an animal responds to changes in its environment. It can be described as an animal’s response to a stimulus or how animals find and defend resources, avoid predators, choose mates and reproduce, and care for their young.

When talking about the behaviour and habits of the cat (Felis silvestris catus) it will generally be referring to body language and intra-species communication. Humans are inclined to think of a cat in the same way as themselves and are very guilty of giving cats human characteristics and giving their thought processes human meanings. When behaviour is looked into, and an understanding into their natural instincts is gained and a clearer idea of why a cat does a certain thing can be understood. Cats have developed and choose to display a wide range of behaviour signals. These signals are often in response to a change in environment, a new encounter, protecting young or foraging for food. Cats tend to be very protective of their territory and so in both the wild and in a domesticated life, they will demonstrate a range of defensive signals that warn other members of their species, predators and humans away from them. Other signals felines show can express affection for owners or/and family members. Overall feline behavioural signals are extremely varied, but generally they are either scent rubbing/spraying, kneading, vocal calls or body postures; two of the most common behavioural signals cats use for defensive reasons are hissing and hackles up.

A description of the Visual Signal.
The term ‘hackles up’ (piloerection) refers to when a cat’s tail and back arch and the hair stands on end. This posture allows the cat to look more physically impressive, despite most probably being somewhat frightened.

(The kitten project. ( 2012) )

This behaviour strategy is a way of a feline communicating warnings to humans, members of the same species and potential predators. It is caused by fear and then a rush of adrenaline down the spine to the tail causes the hair to bristle and the tail and back to arch. The spines arch allows the feline to look taller and the bristled hair makes the cat look larger. Although hackles up seemingly communicates strength and an eagerness to do battle, the behaviour tactic is actually performed to discourage, as opposed to provoke potential attackers. A cat will vary rarely want to fight another feline, and in fact will do their best to avoid it, and so by putting its hackles up, the felines hopes the predator/...
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