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Animals 2017, 7(10), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7100073

Assessment of Clicker Training for Shelter Cats

1
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1601, USA
2
Clicker Learning Institute for Cats and Kittens, 2321 E Mulberry St, # 7 Fort Collins, CO 80524, USA
3
Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 July 2017 / Revised: 28 August 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
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Abstract

Clicker training has the potential to mitigate stress among shelter cats by providing environmental enrichment and human interaction. This study assessed the ability of cats housed in a shelter-like setting to learn new behaviors via clicker training in a limited amount of time. One hundred shelter cats were enrolled in the study. Their baseline ability to perform four specific behaviors touching a target, sitting, spinning, and giving a high-five was assessed, before exposing them to 15, five-min clicker training sessions, followed by a post-training assessment. Significant gains in performance scores were found for all four cued behaviors after training (p = 0.001). A cat’s age and sex did not have any effect on successful learning, but increased food motivation was correlated with greater gains in learning for two of the cued behaviors: high-five and targeting. Temperament also correlated with learning, as bolder cats at post assessment demonstrated greater gains in performance scores than shyer ones. Over the course of this study, 79% of cats mastered the ability to touch a target, 27% mastered sitting, 60% mastered spinning, and 31% mastered high-fiving. Aside from the ability to influence the cats’ well-being, clicker training also has the potential to make cats more desirable to adopters. View Full-Text
Keywords: cats; animal shelter; behavior; environmental enrichment; clicker training; animal welfare cats; animal shelter; behavior; environmental enrichment; clicker training; animal welfare
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 (CC BY 4.0).
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Kogan, L.; Kolus, C.; Schoenfeld-Tacher, R. Assessment of Clicker Training for Shelter Cats. Animals 2017, 7, 73.

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