Feline Behavior: Understanding How Cats Socialize

Rocklin_iStock_000071839991_LargeHead bumps. Slow blinks. A twitchy tail. Meowing. These are just a few of the ways your cat communicates with you. However, when it comes to other pets or people, Fluffy has other ideas. Cats are often (incorrectly) labeled as aloof or antisocial. While we’ve all seen a cat or two that fits that description, many felines are actually very friendly, affectionate, and curious.

Feline behavior can be mysterious, but getting into your cat’s head isn’t impossible. Learning more about how he or she socializes provides important insight, resulting in better health and wellness. And who can argue with that?

Alley Cats

Feral feline populations prove that cats form social groups using a specific hierarchical structure supported by various food sources. Cats bond better with relatives, but individuals can forge friendships with those from different litters or colonies. Like dogs, there’s usually an “alpha” male, but the complexities of feline behavior suggest this male can vary from day to day.

Logically, feral cats scatter when food is scarce, making the concept of the “loner cat” more prevalent.

The Signs of Friendship

One of our favorite terms is “allogrooming,” which means that friends or relatives groom each other. We’ve seen this occur between species – but it doesn’t stop there. If your cat is comfortable with another species (like you, for instance) his or her innate grooming skills will kick in and get work.


While cats can survive as solitary creatures, this is not necessarily a preference. For example, consider a lone housecat looking out the window. While this animal provides excellent company and has a pretty good life (a warm bed, regular meals, a safe home, etc.), he or she could still benefit from socializing with another pet.

Of course, introducing two (or more) territorial cats isn’t for the weak of heart, we assure you the benefits are far-reaching and heart-warming.

Appreciating Feline Behavior

It’s best to socialize a cat during infancy or in his or her early development. Exposure to other people, pets, sounds, and stimuli significantly impacts how the world is perceived later in life. For example, we recommend owners of young cats visit us for a routine visit. This experience can positively affect how your cat views our examination room and travel time in the kennel and on the road.

Good experiences at a young age inform future levels of acceptance – and the same goes for building relationships with other potential friends and cohabitants.

Let the Meows Begin!

The team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is always intrigued by the latest developments in feline behavior, and we hope this has given you a better understanding of your elusive feline. As always, please contact us if we can be of service to you and your amazing cat!