The ontogeny of locomotor play behaviour in the domestic cat
Abstract A descriptive account is given of the development of locomotor play in the domestic cat ( Felis catus ) under laboratory conditions. The subjects were seven families, each family consisting of a mother and her two kittens and living in its own indoor pen. Each family was separately presented with a multi-level climbing frame for 30 min once every 3 days, between 36 and 60 days after birth (nine presentations in total). Kittens spent a substantial proportion of the observation session climbing, sitting, standing and walking on the frame, especially after 48 days of age. Kittens sometimes lost balance and fell off the frame, particularly when performing more difficult motor acts. Standing and walking on the upper levels of the frame were first seen at 48 days of age and increased in incidence thereafter. Mothers sometimes climbed on to the frame and there was an overall positive association between mothers' and kittens' use of the frame. There were large and consistent behavioural differences between families. The climbing frame provides a potentially useful tool for assessing the development of certain locomotor skills under conditions where the subject's behaviour is spontaneous.