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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Siblings - do cats know?

One of the feral kittens I rescued this summer just got adopted! I really wanted his sister to stay with him, as she's still rather timid and skittish. I guess as long as she goes to a home where the people understand her situation, she'll be okay. I just figured staying with her brother would help with keeping her from reverting back to a more feral temperament.

Two of their siblings I wasn't able to tame enough to put into the adoption program. I had them only long enough to get Zinny treated and recovered from pneumonia, then both spayed. Just a few days before I was planning to release them back to the colony, Disco slipped out the door while I was going out to feed. I couldn't get her back, so decided I better let Zinny out too.
I was lamenting the fact I didn't get to spend just a few more days with them, and worried how they would adjust, but that I was glad they had each other. Well, the friend I was talking to said "They're just cats, they don't care if they're with siblings or not." I guess I can understand her viewpoint of them just being animals without so-called "emotions"
However! In the last month, there's only been one time that I saw Zinny without Disco nearby. Usually they're together...eat together, sleep together, etc. I think they DO know, to some extent. They also seem to know parents, too... Zinny prefers to stay by two of the brown tabby toms, who I'm pretty sure are her father(s), while Disco doesn't seem to care who she socializes with.

The two tabby toms would also "babysit" during the summer, after the kittens were old enough to leave the den. Several times I saw them laying on the grass, about 10 feet across from each other, and the kittens romping around between them. I know it was babysitting, because I didn't see the mother anywhere nearby, and the toms would always watch me more carefully the nearer I got to the "nursery".

So what's your opinion? Do cats know who's family, and who's just neighbors/friends?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 10:20 PM
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I would imagine cats know their mother and vice versa. Whether they know their father or siblings is hard to say. For example, I would imagine there would be little difference between two littermates and two kittens from separate litters who have been together from a very young age.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 11:23 PM
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I would imagine cats know their mother and vice versa. Whether they know their father or siblings is hard to say. For example, I would imagine there would be little difference between two littermates and two kittens from separate litters who have been together from a very young age.
I think the same can be said for any animal though, even people. As long as the other person has been there as long as you can remember that's all that matters. Who and what you grow up with are considered your "family"... just look at those children that are raised by dogs. I suppose I'm getting off track.

What I'm trying to say is usually you treat your family/who you grow up with differently than outsiders. There's that saying of "family stick together" and it doesn't come from nowhere, family in many species help ensure the survival of the pack (and you), whereas outsiders can harm, so it's essential to know who you can trust. In that sense, they certainly know who is who and that's really what's most important.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I know that cats (or any other critter) who grow up together can form a bond. Just wondering if it was stronger with genetic relation.

There are two orange tabby toms in the colony. They get along with everybody else...except each other! Any time they get within 5 feet of each other, they start yowling and twitching their tails. Kinda reminds me of little brothers who pester each other if they have to share a room, but are fine at school or out in the park! LOL
I'm hoping to trap at least one (if not both) this month... maybe getting them fixed will solve the fighting issue a bit.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-04-2010, 11:54 PM
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Yeah, I know that cats (or any other critter) who grow up together can form a bond. Just wondering if it was stronger with genetic relation.
I doubt we'll ever know for sure. However, with the potential exception of the mother, I doubt it's stronger with "blood relatives". I think cats define "family" based on those they generally associate with, who they know, feel safe with, etc...as opposed to any genetic relationship.

No doubt getting your two tabbies fixed will solve the fighting issue!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-05-2010, 12:04 AM
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Yeah, I know that cats (or any other critter) who grow up together can form a bond. Just wondering if it was stronger with genetic relation.
Hmm, well then likely not. I don't think genetics ever play a part in it. I don't think they think of terms of "sister" and "brother" ... I think it just comes down to who you've known since birth, your blood relations can mean nothing or can mean everything - depending on if you've been raised with them.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-05-2010, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
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My dad just barely noticed them a few weeks ago. He really doesn't like the cats there at all, but as long as I feed them wwaaaayy at the edge of the property, and they don't come around the house much, he tolerates it.
Anyway, he was telling me he noticed "a yellow cat around lately". And I said "Yellow, or orange?" and he said it was more like orange. So I said "Oh, then there's two. Tangelo and Vermilion." My dad rolled his eyes and said "Good greif" ...not sure if he said that because there's two, or because I've named them! LOL
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-05-2010, 11:54 PM
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Cat form bonds by who they are with. I've found if siblings are separated even for a couple weeks they don't remember them as siblings. ESP since cats use smell to identify each other.

A female cat can breed with several males. That is why you can get several different looking kittens in one litter. So they would never recognize a father S their father.
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