For people working with cats either professionally (eg, the veterinary profession, feline researchers, and those working in boarding catteries and homing centres) or as carers to cats within the home environment, understanding cat behaviour is critical. The first step to understanding cat behaviour is to be able to identify and correctly name the many behaviours cats exhibit.

Thus, the aim of this resource is to describe in a multimedia format, and in detail, the day-to-day behaviour of cats so that we can help to encourage consensus of description within the field. Our descriptions have been based on a combination of experience of those working in the field and, where it is available, published scientific material. This material can be found referenced in the section titled “Further Reading”.

Cat Behaviour Described is composed of 7 chapters:

1. Maintenance Behaviour – this chapter covers those behaviours associated with the survival of the   individual such as obtaining food, toileting and movement through the environment.
2. Social Behaviour
3. Play
4. Reproductive and Developmental Behaviour
5. Chemical Communication
6. Recognising Negative Emotional States
7. Measuring Behaviour – this chapter provides an overview of how to objectively measure behaviour.

This can be useful in a range of situations such as in the scientific study of behaviour and in welfare assessment.

How to Use This Site

Once you have clicked on the chapter title you wish to view (on the left hand column), details of the different behaviours are to be found under the “CHAPTERS” heading at the top of the page. A drop down menu allows you to see the various behaviour categories within the chapter. The search function also allows you to find a specific term should this be easier for you.

For an overview, the following PDF document outlines all the behaviours included in each chapter.

Chapter Outline

If at any time a picture, page or animation has opened and you are finding it difficult to navigate away from it, pressing the “back” arrow on your browser will take you back to the previous page and this will then allow you to navigate on further.

This resource is about helping you to identify and correctly name all the varied behaviours that cats perform. It is Cat Behaviour Described. For explanations of such behaviours (ie, Cat Behaviour Explained) visit:

(This website is constantly evolving as we add new content. However, it does not currently consider clinical behaviour as a chapter, however in a few instances abnormal manifestations of a behaviour may be included, for example over-grooming).