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Clicker training increases exploratory behaviour and time spent at the front of the enclosure in shelter cats; Implications for welfare and adoption rates

By Rachel A. Grant, Jennifer Rose Warrior

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Abstract

The rescue shelter environment is known to be stressful for domestic cats, which can lead to them becoming less active, playful and exploratory as well as spending a long time hiding. Early adoption can prevent long term stress in shelter cats, but adopters often look at behaviour and friendliness as criteria when choosing a cat to rehome. This study aimed to test the efficacy of a clicker training intervention to promote behaviours indicative of improved welfare and increase the potential adoptability of cats in rescue shelters. Twelve cats were clicker trained over two weeks their behaviour and response to humans was recorded before and after the training schedule. Cats showed significantly more exploratory behaviour, a decrease in inactivity and spent more time at the front of their enclosures after training. Four of the cats which failed the human approach test initially, passed it after training but this result was nonsignificant. Clicker training may be a simple and rapid way to improve welfare and adoptability in rescue cats.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 211
Pages 77-83
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.12.002
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Tags
  1. Adoption
  2. Cats
  3. shelters
  4. Stress