Cat Psychology

Cat Psychology: What’s Going On in There?

Welcome all to this weeks topic: Cat Psychology.

Today we’re going to delve into the field of Psychology.

Of course, we’re going to keep it on the topic of cats, so let’s call it Cat Psychology.

Cat Psychology

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One of the areas of importance in cat psychology is our understanding of their perception.

Perception means the ability to hear, smell, see and use their whiskers to detect stimuli.

Olfactory perception (smell) is incredibly important to young kittens, especially when it comes to bonding with their mother.

Adult cats use scent to mark territories and smell the territories of other cats.

As well as this, adult cats also gain social information from the scent of other cats. This is similar to dogs.

Research on cat psychology has revealed that kittens don’t respond to auditory stimuli until they’re 11–16 days old, and they don’t respond to visual stimuli until they’re 16–21 days old.

Object Permanence:

Another section of cat psychology consists of research into object permanence.

Object permanence refers to the ability to keep in mind an object even when it goes out of view.

Experiments have shown that cats are capable of object permanence.

For example: studies have shown that if you show a cat where you are hiding some food, they will keep that in mind and search there later for the food.

Quantity Discrimination:

Quantity discrimination refers to the ability to distinguish which of two quantities is greater.

It allows researchers to understand at what stage of development animals, if at all, can distinguish between objects.

Although heavily under researched, experiments within the field of cat psychology have shown that cats can be trained to discriminate between two dots and three dots, indicating that they are capable of quantity discrimination.

Social Cognition:

Yet another incredibly insight field of cat psychology.

Social cognition refers to the role that cognitive processes play in social interactions.

Research the social cognition of cats has found that cats, in general, learn how to socialise within the first 2-7 weeks of life – both with humans and other cats.

This is a critical period in their life that will determine their personality later on in life.

For example, cats exposed to more humans during this critical 5-week window will be friendlier towards humans for the rest of their lives.


Shreve, K. R. V., & Udell, M. A. (2015). What’s inside your cat’s head? A review of cat (Felis silvestris catus) cognition research past, present and future. Animal cognition, 18, 1195-1206.

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