Cat And Mouse: Mice Exposed To This Predator's Urine Unable To Escape

First Posted: Jul 03, 2015 03:49 PM EDT

Mice and cat urine typically don't mix.

Researchers at the A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russia, discovered that mice exposed to cat urine early on in life were unable to escape from the strong odor of feline predators later on.

"Because the young mice (less than 2 weeks-old) are being fed milk while being exposed to the odour, they experience positive reinforcement," says researcher Dr Vera Voznessenskaya, in a news release. "So they don't escape the cats when exposed to cat odour later on."

The researchers have actually identified the molecule in the urine that's responsible for this reaction and dubbed the effects as L-Felinine.

"We already knew that odour affects reproduction in mice: in fact, this molecule (L-Felinine) is capable of blocking pregnancy in females and reducing the size of the litter," adds Dr Voznessenskaya.

Yet what the researchers found so interesting about the study was that while the mice are unable to escape from the odor later in life, they still experience hormonal changes throughout their life.

"Early exposure to cat odour changes behavioral reactions to, but not physiological (hormonal) responses in the mice, which remain elevated. In fact, mice that had experienced the odour showed stress response (elevated corticosterone) to cat odours in the same way as controls."

More information regarding the findings were presented at the Society for Experimental Biology 2015 conference.

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