Ethology and biological rhythms of the cat

Abstract : Biological rhythms are of importance for living organisms as they help to schedule most behavioural processes within the most suitable temporal window. Literature on daily rhythmicity is scarce and conflicting regarding domestic cats. To sharpen our knowledge on the subject, we used advanced telemetry technologies to record and characterise the daily rhythms of locomotor activity and feeding in cats according to the seasons and housing conditions. The cats were sensitive to photoperiod and to human presence. Along 24-hour periodicity, they displayed bimodality in their daily patterns, with mid-day and mid-night troughs of locomotor activity and food consumption. The two main activity/eating periods corresponded to dawn and dusk at each season, regardless of the twilight timings, confirming the crepuscular intrinsic nature of the species. The feeding rhythm of the cats was more variable daily than their locomotor activity one, recalling the opportunistic character of this predator. Cats displayed plasticity in their behaviour, such as weaker daily rhythms and more nocturnal exploratory behaviour outdoors, compared to indoors where they were more prone to routine. Our results open new avenues for developing nutritional and housing guidelines fitted to the rhythms of the cats according to their way of life.
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Marine Parker. Ethology and biological rhythms of the cat. Neuroscience. Université de Strasbourg, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018STRAJ126⟩. ⟨tel-02309767⟩

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