Are small wild cats social?

The question is asking whether the small wild cat species are social or sociable animals? It’s a fair question because the domestic cat has evolved to be quite sociable over the thousands of years of their domestication which is unsurprising seeing as they have lived with humans within the human environment over that time.

It is demanded of them that they become sociable because they live with people and other animals and pets et cetera. It wouldn’t work out if they weren’t sociable to a certain extent but can we say the same thing about the small wild cats including the domestic cat’s wild ancestor, the Near Eastern wildcat?

And quite positively, we can say no. The small wild cats are unsocial. They are solitary. Another word would be ‘asocial’ to describe the non-social proclivities of the small wild cat species of which there are 30.

Of the small wild cat species that have been studied in the wild, all adult individuals of every species lives a solitary existence except during mating when males and females come together. Of course, the other time when small wild cats are social is when a mother is nursing her offspring before they become independent after weaning.

Males and females of the species will interact from time to time but it will be an aggressive meeting at the boundary of their home ranges. Both females and males protect their territories which they’ve established after they become independent.

Pretty well every cat owner knows this because the same applies to domestic cats although there is a difference because the home ranges of domestic cats are much smaller than those of the small wild cat species even the diminutive wild cats can have home ranges of many square kilometres whereas the domestic cat, in a multi-cat home, can have a home range of a few square metres! And it will overlap with the home ranges of other cats in the home.

It’s all about land tenure and the land tenure system that the small wild cats engage in. This is been well studied by the experts.

Typically, a male cat’s home range might encompass the home ranges of some females to whom he has access for mating but for no other purpose. This implies correctly that the home ranges of females are usually smaller than those of males.

Females also defend their home ranges. There is no difference in that respect. Females tend to travel less distance from their natal home range i.e. their mother’s home range to find their own home range and my understanding is that this journey to their new home is less dangerous than that for males who travel further and across other home ranges which are as mentioned protected by the resident males. A flight can ensue and injuries can be incurred. It’s a dangerous time for the newly independent male small wild cat.

A resident male would not permit the establishment of a competitor within their home range. Sometimes resident female adult cats allow a sub-adult to become established within their home range but normally they will defend it against encroachment.

To stress, it’s quite clear that the adult small wild cat species are solitary creatures and asocial but meet up at specific times i.e. for mating and defending territory.

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