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The relationship between individual behavioural styles, dominance rank and cortisol levels of cats living in urban social groups

By H. Finkler, J. Terkel

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Abstract

Individual animals show differences in temperament, often correlated with ecologically important behavioural patterns such as dominance, and with physiological responses to environmental perturbations, such as cortisol levels. Identifying these temperaments in animals may reveal adaptive patterns of behaviour and physiology that could be used to improve their fitness and welfare in human-controlled environments. We examined the possible relationship between individual temperaments, social dominance levels and cortisol levels in regularly fed urban groups of free-roaming domestic cats ( Felis catus L.) that are routinely subjected to the Trap-Neuter-Release procedure (TNR). We designed three behavioural tests that aimed at assessing the cats' boldness levels and determining the individual temperaments using a principle component analysis. Individual social dominance rank was determined from observations of social encounters before and during feeding. Cortisol levels were measured from hair samples collected from the cats. Significant differences were exclusive to females, with the intact females scoring higher on the boldness factor compared to the neutered females (median of 0.470.981 and -0.1681.015, respectively, Post hoc Chi square, P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 173
Pages 22-28
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.04.016
Language English
Author Address Zoology Department, George S. Wise, Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, 6997801 Tel Aviv, Israel.Hilit.finkler@gmail.com
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animals
  5. Carnivores
  6. Cats
  7. Ecology
  8. Feeding
  9. Fitness
  10. Hair
  11. Hydrocortisone
  12. Mammals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. physiology
  15. Social Dominance
  16. survival
  17. temperament
  18. urban areas
  19. vertebrates
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  1. peer-reviewed