Do cats learn from each other?

Yes, cats learn from each other. Social learning is achieved by watching another cat complete the task. The other cat might be, and often is, the mother. Excellent observational skills are very important for the kitten when learning hunting from his/her mother. The feral mother cat (queen) firstly brings prey that she has killed to the nest. But when the kittens are about four weeks of age she brings back live prey.

After the queen releases the live prey in the nest she’ll demonstrate hunting skills to her kittens. The kittens practice the tasks in front of their mother. Also when a kitten is being socialised he learns faster in the presence of his mother.

Surrogate mothers and males also have a role in teaching, through observation, growing kittens and juveniles. Apprently researchers have observed male cats using a forelimb to seperate wrestling juveniles without being aggressive towards them. Males also groom and defend kittens and curl up around them when abandoned in a colony.

The Sunquists in their book, Wild Cats of the World write on the subject of learning hunting skills:

“It seems that simply watching the mother or another cat kill a rat is enough to teach a kitten how to deal with live prey. This observational learning is facilitated if the cat performing the act is familiar to the observer cat.”

When tackling live prey kittens normally follow their mother’s selection. The selection of new prey is influenced by their mother.

This learning from other cats was strongly demonstrated in an experiment. A scientist trained a mother cat to eat bananas (put aside the ethics for a moment). When her kittens were offered familiar dry cat food or a banana, the kittens copied their monther and selected the banana.

On the basis that domestic cats see us as cats (some would debate this) they learn from watching us. A lot of the routines and habits of cats turn on what we do. For instance when I go out to the gym in the morning my cat goes out to the garden at the exact same time. He recognises that I won’t be around so decides to go out until I return.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

6 thoughts on “Do cats learn from each other?”

  1. I have 2 older hearing cats and 4 deaf ferals. The ferals have learned from Tawnnie and Howie that I love them and will allow them to be crazycats who race around the house and that each ha his or her own room to eat in-they are on different foods as they have differing medical conditions. When they want loving or have a complaint, they know I will listen and give them all the ear rubs, chin skritches and shoulder massages they want. I also respect their need for being by him or herself.

  2. Goodness gracious, yes. Forget any food issues…In my home, Damon is the leader of all deviant behaviors and several are now following suit. He pees in the kitchen sink, steals any items left unattended, and is a hoarder. I can’t find any essential unless I search through his 3 hoarding piles.

    • It sounds more like that cat is learning from Dee. If a cat can hide and maintain 3 piles of hoarded items in a home, one can only envision what the rest of that home must look like. Just like the hundred+ cats that she hoards. Same thing.


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