Special Issue "Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Companion Animals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (9 May 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Chiara Mariti, DVM, PhD, EBVS - ECAWBM (AWSEL)
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università di Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr Jonathan Bowen, MRCVS
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK
Interests: veterinary; behaviour; human-animal bond

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The number of cats sharing space and experiences with people has been increasing in the last decades, playing an important role in human life. However, compared to other species such as the dog, the study of domestic cats has not yet been well developed.

The aim of the current Special Issue is to extend the knowledge of cat behaviour, physiology, and welfare. Topics covered by this Special Issue range from studies with an ethological approach to those more focused on applied ethology, animal welfare, behavioural medicine, etc.

Some examples of fields of research concerning this Special Issue are the following:

  • Cat behavioural, physiological, and endocrine parameters;
  • Cat–human bond;
  • Cat social behaviour;
  • Feline behavioural problems;
  • Cat welfare;
  • Cat cognition;
  • Behaviour and welfare of other felids;

This Special Issue welcomes contributions in literature reviews, empirical research papers, or opinion pieces.

Dr. Chiara Mariti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Overweight in Domestic Cats Living in Urban Areas of Italy: Risk Factors for an Emerging Welfare Issue
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2246; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082246 - 30 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1250
Abstract
Overweight is common in cats and has health and welfare implications. This study aimed to assess potential predictive/protective factors for feline overweight associated with owner management and their relationship with cat behavior and welfare. A questionnaire was administered to 197 owners to collect [...] Read more.
Overweight is common in cats and has health and welfare implications. This study aimed to assess potential predictive/protective factors for feline overweight associated with owner management and their relationship with cat behavior and welfare. A questionnaire was administered to 197 owners to collect information about cat demographics, management, environment, dietary habits and behavior. The feline Body Mass Index was recorded for each cat. Univariate logistic regression was used to evaluate the association of parameters with overweight cats. Variables with a p-value < 0.10 at univariable analyses were selected for the multivariable model. Most cats were mixed- breed, 1–7 years old and neutered; 51.3% were overweight. Age higher than 7 years, neutering, being alone all day and being stressed were predictive for overweight (p < 0.05). Conversely, the presence of other animals had a protective effect (p < 0.05). A general disagreement between owners’ perception and clinical evaluation of cats’ body condition was a common and significant risk factor for overweight (OR = 8.532, 95% CI = 4.073–17.875; p < 0.001). According to the owners, many veterinarians did not inform them about their cat being overweight nor about the risks (p < 0.001). This study provides helpful information on the influence of management and environment on cats’ body condition and its relationship with cat welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Characteristics of Plant Eating in Domestic Cats
Animals 2021, 11(7), 1853; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071853 - 22 Jun 2021
Viewed by 825
Abstract
Plant eating by domestic cats is of interest to veterinarians and cat owners, especially with the current trend to keep cats totally indoors. Feline grass gardens are commonly provided to such cats as a reflection of cat owners believing in the need or [...] Read more.
Plant eating by domestic cats is of interest to veterinarians and cat owners, especially with the current trend to keep cats totally indoors. Feline grass gardens are commonly provided to such cats as a reflection of cat owners believing in the need or desire of cats for eating plants. Two surveys with 1000 to 2000 returns from cat owners were launched over 10 years to test different hypotheses regarding plant eating. These hypotheses are that plant eating: (1) is a response to the cat feeling ill; (2) induces vomiting; (3) is a means of expelling hair balls from consumed hair. Additionally, a perspective acquired from observations of wild felids is that plant eating reflects an innate predisposition acquired from the ancestral cat. In this study, very few cats showed signs of illness before eating plants. However, 27 to 37 percent of cats, respectively in the two surveys, frequently vomited after eating plants, indicating that gastrointestinal disturbance may be related to vomiting in some cats. Young cats consumed plants more frequently than older cats and appeared ill and vomited less frequently in association with plant eating. Short-haired cats ate plants as frequently as long-haired cats, arguing against the hairball expelling hypothesis. Some guidelines for cat owners with indoor cats are provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
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 - 16 Jun 2021
Viewed by 793
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
My Cat and Me—A Study of Cat Owner Perceptions of Their Bond and Relationship
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1601; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061601 - 29 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 15244
Abstract
Cats form close emotional relationships with humans, yet little is known about this. This study characterized different types of relationship that cats might establish with their owners. Data were analyzed from 3994 responses to a questionnaire developed using expressions of social support and [...] Read more.
Cats form close emotional relationships with humans, yet little is known about this. This study characterized different types of relationship that cats might establish with their owners. Data were analyzed from 3994 responses to a questionnaire developed using expressions of social support and attachment in relation to everyday cat–owner interactions. Principal component analysis reduced the items to four factors: the “owner’s emotional investment in the cat”, “cat’s acceptance of others”, “cat’s need for owner proximity” and “cat’s aloofness”. Cluster identified three groups of owners with two of these each sub-divided into two. The “open relationship bond” was characterized by a lightly emotionally invested owner and an avoidant cat. The “remote association” and “casual relationship” were characterized by an emotionally remote owner but differed in the cat’s acceptance of others. The “co-dependent” and “friendship” relationship were characterized by an emotionally invested owner but differed in the cat’s acceptance of others and need to maintain owner proximity. In conclusion, as with any complex social relationship, the type of cat–owner bond that develops is the product of the dynamic that exists between both the individuals involved, along with certain personality features, of which, the wider sociability of the cat and owner expectations may be particularly important. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Owner-Reported Pica in Domestic Cats Enrolled onto a Birth Cohort Study
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1101; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041101 - 12 Apr 2021
Viewed by 979
Abstract
The prevalence and cooccurrence of pica towards different target materials were investigated using prospective data from three questionnaires completed by owners participating in a longitudinal study of UK pet cats. Pica towards one or more material types was reported in 42.9% (229/534), 32.0% [...] Read more.
The prevalence and cooccurrence of pica towards different target materials were investigated using prospective data from three questionnaires completed by owners participating in a longitudinal study of UK pet cats. Pica towards one or more material types was reported in 42.9% (229/534), 32.0% (171/534), and 30.9% (165/534) of cats aged approximately 6, 12, and 18 months, respectively. At all timepoints, it was most common for only one material type to be targeted. Associations between potential explanatory variables and “chronic pica” (pica exhibited at all three timepoints) were also explored. Multivariable logistic regression revealed moving to a new house when the cat was aged approximately 6–12 months, renting rather than owning a home, and living in a household without a dog(s) when the cat was aged 2–4 months increased the odds of chronic pica occurrence. This study provides novel data from a cohort of UK pet cats and it is hoped this will increase the understanding of pica and provide direction for areas for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Article
Slow Blink Eye Closure in Shelter Cats Is Related to Quicker Adoption
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2256; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122256 - 30 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1729
Abstract
The process of domestication is likely to have led to the development of adaptive interspecific social abilities in animals. Such abilities are particularly interesting in less gregarious animals, such as cats. One notable social behaviour that cats exhibit in relation to humans is [...] Read more.
The process of domestication is likely to have led to the development of adaptive interspecific social abilities in animals. Such abilities are particularly interesting in less gregarious animals, such as cats. One notable social behaviour that cats exhibit in relation to humans is the slow blink sequence, which our previous research suggests can function as a form of positive communication between cats and humans. This behaviour involves the production of successive half blinks followed by either a prolonged narrowing of the eye or an eye closure. The present study investigates how cat (n = 18) slow blink sequences might affect human preferences during the adoption of shelter cats. Our study specifically tested (1) whether cats’ propensity to respond to human-initiated slow blinking was associated with their speed of rehoming from a shelter environment, and (2) whether cats’ anxiety around humans was related to their tendency to slow blink. Our experiments demonstrated that cats that showed an increased number of and longer eye closures in response to human slow blinks were rehomed faster, and that nervous cats, who had been identified as needing desensitisation to humans, tended to spend more time producing slow blink sequences in response to human slow blinks than a non-desensitisation group. Collectively, these results suggest that the cat slow blink sequence is perceived as positive by humans and may have a dual function—occurring in both affiliative and submissive contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Coat Color and Cat Outcomes in an Urban U.S. Shelter
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1720; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101720 - 23 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2446
Abstract
Some nonhuman animal shelters have developed rehoming programs for black cats to remedy what they believe are their higher rates of euthanasia and lower rates of adoption. This study reviews humans’ preferences/aversions to cats of various coat colors and uses contingency tables and [...] Read more.
Some nonhuman animal shelters have developed rehoming programs for black cats to remedy what they believe are their higher rates of euthanasia and lower rates of adoption. This study reviews humans’ preferences/aversions to cats of various coat colors and uses contingency tables and multinomial logistic regression to test possible differences in outcomes (euthanasia, adoption, or transfer) for 7983 cats that entered an urban public shelter in Kentucky, USA from 2010 through 2011. While coat color overall was negligibly associated with cat outcomes in a contingency table, the pairwise difference between black and white cats was significant (p < 0.05) and nontrivial in strength. Specifically, black cats experienced the highest euthanasia and lowest adoption rates, while white cats had the lowest euthanasia and highest adoption rates. Brown, gray, and orange cats experienced similar outcomes, but middling between those of black and white cats. These patterns by color remained weak but significant after controlling for breed and stray status in regression analysis, with the exception of orange and white, which did not differ significantly. A subsample of 1219 entirely black cats was analyzed to assess whether they had different outcomes during the run-up to Halloween; their October percentages of adoption and transfer were comparable to or lower than all other months of the calendar year. Thus, this study did not find that outcomes improved for black cats during October. Overall, this study provides weak support for what has been termed “Black Cat Bias” by others, and hints that black cats in public shelters should receive extra consideration for rehoming, particularly if such efforts do not substantially redirect resources from other initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Article
Understanding the Relationship between Intention and Cat Containment Behaviour: A Case Study of Kitten and Cat Adopters from RSPCA Queensland
Animals 2020, 10(7), 1214; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071214 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1272
Abstract
In Australia, cat owners are encouraged to keep their pet cats contained on their property at all times. This study explores the relationship between the intentions and behaviours of 72 kitten and cat adopters from a RSPCA Queensland animal shelter, to provide a [...] Read more.
In Australia, cat owners are encouraged to keep their pet cats contained on their property at all times. This study explores the relationship between the intentions and behaviours of 72 kitten and cat adopters from a RSPCA Queensland animal shelter, to provide a more in-depth understanding of the factors influencing the adoption of cat containment behaviours. At the time of adoption, 64 participants (89%) indicated they were intending to keep their cat fully contained. Eight weeks after adoption, 63 participants (87%) reported they were doing so (59 who had stated their intention at the time of adoption, and 4 who had not). We found cat owner containment behaviour was moderately correlated with containment intentions. For some of the participants when it came to enacting this behaviour, their intentions and the provided education information was not enough to overcome the more compelling capability, opportunity and motivational factors which presented themselves once they got home. We were able to identify these factors and suggest additional behaviour change strategies that would assist. Although it is important to provide cat adopters with advice about how to contain their cats properly, these results also highlight the importance of focusing attention on other behaviour change strategies that address the particular barriers faced by some cat-owners who are unsuccessful in keeping their cat contained on their property. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Prevalence of Blood Types and Alloantibodies of the AB Blood Group System in Non-Pedigree Cats from Northern (Lombardy) and Southern (Sicily) Italy
Animals 2020, 10(7), 1129; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071129 - 03 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1097
Abstract
The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of A, B and AB blood types and alloantibodies in non-pedigree cats from two regions, one in Northern and one in Southern Italy (Lombardy and Sicily, respectively). A total of 448 samples (52.0% [...] Read more.
The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of A, B and AB blood types and alloantibodies in non-pedigree cats from two regions, one in Northern and one in Southern Italy (Lombardy and Sicily, respectively). A total of 448 samples (52.0% from Northern and 48.0% from Southern Italy) were blood typed. The prevalence of A, B and AB blood types in northern and southern cats were 91.0%, 5.2%, 3.8%, and 77.2%, 12.1% and 10.7%, respectively. The prevalence of type-A blood in southern cats was significantly lower (p = 0.0001) than in northern cats, while type-B and AB blood were significantly higher (p = 0.0085 and p = 0.0051, respectively) in Southern compared to Northern Italian cats. Alloantibodies against type-A blood were found in 94.1% of type-B cats, 11.2% of type-A cats had alloantibodies against type-B blood, while no type-AB cats had alloantibodies with no significant difference between the two Italian populations. Type-AB prevalence in non-pedigree cats in Southern Italy was the highest reported in Europe. Italian type-A cats had the lowest worldwide prevalence of alloantibodies against type-B blood. These results highlight the usefulness of regional studies to report different prevalences in feline blood types and reinforce the importance of blood typing cats before transfusions and mating. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cat Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop