FunNature & AnimalLate weaning reduces behavior problems in cats

Late weaning reduces behavior problems in cats

Cats are adorable, playful and affectionate animals. Therefore, it is not surprising that they are one of the most popular pets. However, sometimes they do not wait long enough to wean them, so they are separated from their mother and siblings too early. In Finland, for example, the minimum age for weaning is 12 weeks. But in other countries, such as the United States, kittens are weaning from 8 weeks.

In the past, the socialization period for cats was thought to end at 8 weeks of age. However, it’s not always like that. Several studies have shown that there are positive changes in the behavior of cats after the currently recommended weaning age (12 weeks).

“We found an easy way to improve the well-being of cats: we propose that the weaning age be increased by two more weeks. This could have a significant positive impact on the well-being of both cats and their owners on a global scale,” he explained Professor Hannes Lohi, from the University of Helsinki.

Study development

The study used the results of a behavioral survey that the group of researchers had previously conducted on nearly 6,000 cats. According to the survey, numerous behavior problems are very common.

In addition, 80% of the cats had mild behavior problems, while 25% of the pets had severe feline behavior problems. Among them are shyness, excessive grooming or aggressiveness.

“The age of weaning has an impact on the subsequent behavior of the cat. Cats weaned before 8 weeks are more aggressive, while cats weaned to adulthood have fewer problems of this type. In addition, cats weaned at 14 weeks had fewer behavioral problems than cats that had been weaned before, “argued Milla Ahola, one of the lead researchers.

Various studies in other species have shown similar results. For example, between rodents and monkeys, early separation leads to increased aggressiveness. This same phenomenon occurs in humans.

Ahola, MK, Vapalahti, K., Lohi, H. (2017) Early weaning increases aggression and stereotyped behavior in cats. Scientific Reports , 7. doi: 10.1038 / s41598-017-11173-5.

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