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Veterinary Professionals’ Understanding of Common Feline Behavioural Problems and the Availability of “Cat Friendly” Practices in Ireland

School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, D04W6F6 Dublin, Ireland
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Animals 2019, 9(12), 1112; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121112
Received: 18 November 2019 / Accepted: 5 December 2019 / Published: 10 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
Veterinary behavioural medicine, which includes being able to understand animal behaviour and treat behaviour problems, is an important part of veterinary practice. However, many veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses in Ireland and elsewhere feel that they have received inadequate training in this subject. The purpose of this study was to survey veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses in Ireland about treating common behavioural problems in cats and the availability of “cat friendly” practices. An online survey was developed, consisting of 21 questions on professional roles and experience, scenarios presenting advice given on common cat behaviour problems, and “cat friendly” practice management options. For each piece of advice participants were asked to score how likely it would be to solve the behavioural problem in a kind way. The online survey was shared via professional organisations, social media and at the University College Dublin Hospital Conference. The survey was completed by 42 veterinary practitioners and 53 veterinary nurses. Most of these correctly recognised both good and bad advice, but some mistakes and uncertainties were found. The scores of veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses differed for the advice on urine spraying, self-mutilation (self-injury), and resource-based aggression (aggression related to sharing items), and we found that relatively few “cat friendly” measures were available in respondents’ clinics. Our findings could be used to improve training in veterinary behavioural medicine.
Veterinary behavioural medicine (VBM) is an integral aspect of veterinary practice. However, Golden and Hanlon (Ir. Vet. J. 71:12, 2018) found that the majority of professionals surveyed felt they had received inadequate VBM education and were commonly asked to give advice on feline behavioural problems. The purpose of this study was to explore understanding of feline VBM and the availability of “cat friendly” provisions in clinical practice in Ireland. An online survey comprised 21 questions on professional role and experience, vignettes of common feline behavioural problems, and “cat friendly” practice management. Using a Likert Scale, participants were requested to score whether the advice depicted in vignettes supported best outcome based on the definition by Shalvey et al. (Ir. Vet. J. 72:1, 2019). The survey was distributed via professional organisations, social media, and at the University College Dublin Hospital Conference. Forty-two veterinary practitioners (VPs) and 53 veterinary nurses (VNs) completed the survey. The majority of veterinary professionals agreed with our classification of best outcome, but some areas of disagreement and uncertainty were identified. In addition, there were significant differences between VPs and VNs regarding spraying (p = 0.033), self-mutilation (p = 0.016), and resource-based aggression (p = 0.013). Relatively few “cat friendly” measures were implemented in respondents’ clinics. Our findings support the need for increased education in feline VBM, in particular, implementation of cat friendly practice initiatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: veterinary behavioural medicine; feline behaviour; veterinary behaviour curriculum; feline welfare; behaviour; aggression veterinary behavioural medicine; feline behaviour; veterinary behaviour curriculum; feline welfare; behaviour; aggression
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Goins, M.; Nicholson, S.; Hanlon, A. Veterinary Professionals’ Understanding of Common Feline Behavioural Problems and the Availability of “Cat Friendly” Practices in Ireland. Animals 2019, 9, 1112.

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