Next Article in Journal
Heat Shock Protein 70 Improves In Vitro Embryo Yield and Quality from Heat Stressed Bovine Oocytes
Next Article in Special Issue
Characteristics of Plant Eating in Domestic Cats
Previous Article in Journal
Genetic Analysis of Major Carcass Traits of Korean Hanwoo Males Raised for Thirty Months
Previous Article in Special Issue
My Cat and Me—A Study of Cat Owner Perceptions of Their Bond and Relationship
Due to scheduled maintenance work on our core network, there may be short service disruptions on this website between 16:00 and 16:30 CEST on September 25th.
Article

Cognitive and Composite Behavioural Welfare Assessments of Pet Cats between the Ages of 9–22 Months, Living in Single and Multi-Cat Households

1
School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK
2
Center for Human-Animal Interaction, School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
3
Sarphatistraat 81-2, 1018EZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Chiara Mariti
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1793; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061793
Received: 5 May 2021 / Revised: 24 May 2021 / Accepted: 10 June 2021 / Published: 16 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Although agonistic interactions between cats are often regarded clinically as a source of stress, there is currently limited research evidence regarding the welfare impact of keeping multiple cats as pets. The aim of this study was to compare welfare indicators between cats living in single and multi-cat households, as well as between cats living in multi-cat households where agonistic behaviour was/was not reported by owners. Indicators included a spatial judgment bias task (JBT) and the cat stress score (CSS). CSSs were higher in cats from single compared with multi-cat households. CSSs were lower for cats that showed a more ‘pessimistic’ response in the JBT, suggesting these cats appeared to be less stressed. JBT results did not vary depending on the presence of, or reports of agonistic behaviours between, cohabiting cats. These data suggest that mood states (as measured by the JBT) were not impacted by the social groupings investigated, and that cats from single-cat households showed more signs of stress (as measured by CSS) than those in multi-cat households. Alternative explanations cannot be discounted, particularly due to the narrow sample population and broad scope of husbandry conditions that were unaccounted for. Further research is warranted to explore the extent to which variables that could not be controlled may have confounded findings.
Although agonistic interactions between cats are often regarded clinically as a source of stress, there is currently limited research evidence regarding the welfare impact of keeping multiple cats as pets. The aim of this study was to compare welfare indicators between cats living in domestic single and multi-cat households, as well as between multi-cat households where agonistic behaviour was/was not reported by owners. Indicators included a spatial judgment bias task (JBT), where longer latencies to ambiguous probes are interpreted as being related to a more ‘pessimistic’ mood state, and the cat stress score (CSS), where high scores are indicative of high stress levels. Of 128 focal cats between the ages of 9–22 months, 94 were from multi-cat households, 126 had useable CSS data and 42 had JBT results suitable for analysis. CSSs were significantly lower for cats showing a more ‘pessimistic’ response in the JBT. It is possible that the cats that appeared to be the most relaxed may have been showing inactivity relating to negative affective states and/or were the least active/food motivated, and therefore slower in the JBT. CSSs were significantly higher in cats from single compared with multi-cat households, and did not vary with reports of agonistic interactions in multi-cat households. JBT results did not vary depending on the presence of, or reports of agonistic behaviours between, cohabiting cats. These data suggest that cats from single-cat households may be more likely to show signs of acute stress than those in multi-cat households. Alternative explanations are possible. For example, lower CSSs in the multi-cat group may reflect ‘relief’ effects resulting from separating cats for the test period, or inactivity relating to negative affective states. Due to the narrow sample population and broad scope of husbandry conditions, the potential for confounding variables limits the degree by which results can be used to inform causation of the relationships identified. Further research is warranted to replicate this work and explore potential confounders. View Full-Text
Keywords: judgment bias; cat stress score; measuring welfare; sociality; affective state; domestic cat judgment bias; cat stress score; measuring welfare; sociality; affective state; domestic cat
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Ozgunay, S.; Murray, J.K.; Rowe, E.; Gee, N.R.; Bartholomeus, M.; Casey, R. Cognitive and Composite Behavioural Welfare Assessments of Pet Cats between the Ages of 9–22 Months, Living in Single and Multi-Cat Households. Animals 2021, 11, 1793. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061793

AMA Style

Ozgunay S, Murray JK, Rowe E, Gee NR, Bartholomeus M, Casey R. Cognitive and Composite Behavioural Welfare Assessments of Pet Cats between the Ages of 9–22 Months, Living in Single and Multi-Cat Households. Animals. 2021; 11(6):1793. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061793

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ozgunay, Sezan, Jane K. Murray, Elizabeth Rowe, Nancy R. Gee, Marije Bartholomeus, and Rachel Casey. 2021. "Cognitive and Composite Behavioural Welfare Assessments of Pet Cats between the Ages of 9–22 Months, Living in Single and Multi-Cat Households" Animals 11, no. 6: 1793. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061793

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop