Abstract #392

# 392
Evidence for a cat pheromone that modulates kitten scratching.
John J. McGlone*1,2, Rebekkah R. Plummer2, 1Laboratory of Animal Behavior, Physiology and Welfare, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, 2McGlone Enterprises Inc, Lubbock, TX.

Inappropriate scratching is a behavioral problem among kittens and cats in homes. Tools to modulate (increase or decrease) scratching would be valuable for cat owners and cats. Anecdotal literature suggests that cats have pheromones in their paws or claws, or in their saliva that they transfer to their claws. These pheromones are reportedly used to mark territory or objects. Through evaluation of cat scratchers, we noticed effects over time that suggested saliva, claw, or paw pheromones may modulate kitten scratching. We used the highly preferred S-shaped cardboard scratcher and 6 kittens (<3 mo of age) per study in 2 studies with the objective of finding evidence that supports pheromones may be present. In study 1, we compared kitten scratching with paired access to a previously used cat scratcher compared with a new cat scratcher. Using a 20-min evaluation period, kittens spent more (P < 0.05) time interacting (scratching and playing) with a previously used cat scratcher than with a new cat scratcher (33.1 vs. 20.6 ± 6.3 s). In study 2, new S-shaped cardboard scratchers were evaluated alone or with catnip, catnip oil, or cat hair added (clipped from adult donor cats and allowed to fall between the cracks of the cardboard scratcher). Kittens spent more (P < 0.05) time interacting with the S-shaped cardboard scratcher with added cat hair than with a control scratcher (16.0 vs. 8.3 ± 2.7 s). Adding dried catnip plants or catnip oil did not cause a change in scratching compared with the control (5.0, 10.2 vs. 8.3 ± 2.7 s). In conclusion, we provide evidence that kittens touching cardboard cause future kittens to interact more with that material. Second, we show that catnip plants and oil are not effective at increasing use of a scratcher by kittens. Finally, we show that cat hair (odor) induces enhanced interactions (scratching and play) with a cardboard scratcher. These findings can be used as a basis to discover new pheromones that modulate kitten and cat behavior.

Key Words: cat, behavior, scratch