“There are no ordinary cats.”
~ Colette Domestic cats just do not see any benefits from group living, but in the future that could change
In some circumstances it can appear that domestic cats have embraced group living; for instance, a colony living in a barn. But do not be fooled, says Fryxell.
"They're very loose aggregations and they don't have any real group identity," he says. "They just have a common place they come to keep their kittens."
In keeping with their solitary, uncooperative reputation, cats turned out to be neurotic, impulsive and resistant to being ordered around
In fact, even in the face of extreme danger, which often brings animals together to form a defensive unit, it is unlikely cats would cooperate. "It's just not something that they typically do when they're threatened," says Monique Udell, a biologist at Oregon State University. Cats just do not believe in strength in numbers.
All of this helps explain why cats have a reputation for being impossible to herd. Even so, there is some evidence that the domestic cat's disdain for group living could be weakening.
A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Comparative Psychology
saw scientists probe the personality traits of domestic cats. In keeping with their solitary, uncooperative reputation, cats turned out to be neurotic, impulsive and resistant to being ordered around.
Interestingly, though, domestic cats might be a little less uncooperative than their wild relatives. When the researchers compared the domestic cat to four wild cats – Scottish wildcats, clouded leopards, snow leopards and African lions – the domestic cats proved to be most like those group-living lions in terms of their overarching personalities.
It is also fair to say that domestic cats have come a long way from their ancestors in terms of tolerating each other's company. Although groups of cats living in barns form loose aggregations at best, they still show a remarkable level of acceptance for each other's presence in such confined spaces.
In Rome, nearly 200 cats live side-by-side in the Colosseum, while on Aoshima Island in Japan cats outnumber people six to one. These colonies may not be cooperatives, but they are a far step from the domestic cat's solitary past.
Obviously, lions managed the feat, so it must be possible for the proper set of mutations to occur
Researchers, meanwhile, might find it easier to control the cats in their experiments by meeting them halfway.
Interesting. Read on: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170103-it-is-almost-impossible-to-herd-cats-thanks-