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Will a hiding box provide stress reduction for shelter cats?

By C. M. Vinke, L. M. Godijn, W. J. R. van der Leij

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Abstract

Domestic cats ( Felis sylvestris catus) can experience serious stress in shelters. Stressful experiences can have a major impact on the cats' welfare and may cause higher incidences of infectious diseases in the shelters due to raised cortisol levels causing immunodeficiency. Though several studies showed preference for hiding places and stress reducing effects of hiding boxes on cats in combined studies, none of these studies determined if proper hiding enrichment would be effective in a quarantine cattery. These stress reducing effects are crucial in the first weeks after admission in which novelty stress is highest. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of a hiding box on the stress levels of newly arrived cats in a Dutch animal shelter. Therefore, 19 newly arrived shelter cats were randomly divided into two groups, with ( N=10) and without a hiding box ( N=9). To determine the stress levels of recently admitted cats, behavioural observations were done during a 14-day period according to the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress-Score (CSS). The main results of this study are, that: (1) a significant difference was found between groups in the mean CSS on observation day 3 and 4, whereby the hiding box group had a lower mean CSS ( p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 160
Pages 86-93
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.002
Language English
Author Address Department of Animals, Science and Society, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, P.O. Box 80166, 3508 TD Utrecht, Netherlands.c.m.vinke@uu.nl
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal injuries
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animals
  6. Carnivores
  7. Cats
  8. Diseases and injuries of animals
  9. Effect
  10. Enrichment
  11. Hydrocortisone
  12. Immunologic deficiency syndromes
  13. Infectious diseases
  14. Mammals
  15. outbreaks
  16. Parasites
  17. pathogens
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Pests.
  20. Pets and companion animals
  21. Quarantine
  22. Research
  23. shelters
  24. Stress
  25. vertebrates
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  1. peer-reviewed