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Animals 2013, 3(4), 1194-1214; doi:10.3390/ani3041194
Article

Reliability and Validity of a Survey of Cat Caregivers on Their Cats’ Socialization Level in the Cat’s Normal Environment

1,* , 2
, 3
, 4
, 5
 and 6
1 Shelter Research and Development, Community Outreach, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), 50 Stone Ridge Drive, Florence, MA 01062, USA 2 Shelter Research and Development, Community Outreach, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), P.O. Box 408, Little Silver, NJ 07739, USA 3 Shelter Research and Development, Community Outreach, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), 520 Eighth Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10018, USA 4 Shelter Research and Development, Community Outreach, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), 3201 SW Winding Way, Palm City, FL 34990, USA 5 Veterinary Outreach, Community Outreach, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), P.O. Box 1144, Orchard Park, NY 14127, USA 6 Shelter Research and Development, Community Outreach, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), P.O. Box 4323, Arlington, VA 22204, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 September 2013 / Revised: 12 December 2013 / Accepted: 12 December 2013 / Published: 18 December 2013
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Simple Summary: Many animal welfare organizations accept cats with no known behavioral history. It can be difficult to differentiate between a frightened but well-socialized cat and an unsocialized cat in an animal shelter environment. Making this distinction can save lives, yet currently there is no valid tool. Here we measured the quality of a survey designed to determine socialization level using information from the cat’s caregiver about a cat’s usual behavior around people in the cat’s normal environment. This survey will be used to help develop an effective process that accurately differentiates cats by their socialization levels in animal shelters.

Abstract

Stray cats routinely enter animal welfare organizations each year and shelters are challenged with determining the level of human socialization these cats may possess as quickly as possible. However, there is currently no standard process to guide this determination. This study describes the development and validation of a caregiver survey designed to be filled out by a cat’s caregiver so it accurately describes a cat’s personality, background, and full range of behavior with people when in its normal environment. The results from this survey provided the basis for a socialization score that ranged from unsocialized to well socialized with people. The quality of the survey was evaluated based on inter-rater and test-retest reliability and internal consistency and estimates of construct and criterion validity. In general, our results showed moderate to high levels of inter-rater (median of 0.803, range 0.211–0.957) and test-retest agreement (median 0.92, range 0.211–0.999). Cronbach’s alpha showed high internal consistency (0.962). Estimates of validity did not highlight any major shortcomings. This survey will be used to develop and validate an effective assessment process that accurately differentiates cats by their socialization levels towards humans based on direct observation of cats’ behavior in an animal shelter.
Keywords: feral cat; behavior evaluation; stray cat; socialization; survey; reliability; validity feral cat; behavior evaluation; stray cat; socialization; survey; reliability; validity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Slater, M.; Garrison, L.; Miller, K.; Weiss, E.; Makolinski, K.; Drain, N. Reliability and Validity of a Survey of Cat Caregivers on Their Cats’ Socialization Level in the Cat’s Normal Environment. Animals 2013, 3, 1194-1214.

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