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Exploratory study of fecal cortisol, weight, and behavior as measures of stress and welfare in shelter cats during assimilation into families of children with autism spectrum disorder

By G. K. Carlisle, R. A. Johnson, C. S. Koch, L. A. Lyons, Z. Wang, J. Bibbo, N. Cheak-Zamora

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Abstract

Background: Cats are a common companion animal (CA) in US households, and many live in families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The prevalence of ASD is one in 54, and many children have behavior challenges as well as their diagnostic communication disorders. Objective: Benefits of CAs for children with ASD have been identified, but little is known about the welfare of CAs in these homes. This study explored the welfare of cats (N = 10) screened for ideal social and calm temperament using the Feline Temperament Profile (FTP) and adopted by families of children with ASD. Methods: Cat stress was measured using fecal cortisol, weight, and a behavior stress measure (cat stress score). Measures were taken at baseline in the shelter, 2-3 days after adoption, and at weeks 6, 12, and 18. Result: Outcome measures suggested the adopted cats' stress levels did not increase postadoption; however, the small sample size limited analytical power and generalizability. Conclusion: This study provides preliminary evidence for the success of cat adoption by families of children with ASD, when cats have been temperament screened and cat behavior educational information is provided. Further research is warranted to confirm these findings.

Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 7
Issue September
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2021.643803
Author Address University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, Columbia, Missouri, USA.carlislegk@missouri.edu
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Adoption
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Anthrozoology
  7. APEC countries
  8. Autism
  9. Behavioral research
  10. Biochemistry
  11. Biology
  12. Carnivores
  13. Cats
  14. Children
  15. Feces
  16. Human development
  17. Humans
  18. Hydrocortisone
  19. Income
  20. Mammals
  21. Men
  22. Non-communicable diseases and injuries
  23. North America
  24. OECD countries
  25. open access
  26. pathology
  27. Pets and companion animals
  28. physiology
  29. Physiology and biochemistry
  30. Primates
  31. Psychiatry and psychology
  32. responses
  33. shelters
  34. Social psychology and social anthropology
  35. Stress
  36. United States of America
  37. vertebrates
  38. Veterinary sciences
  39. Zoology
Badges
  1. open access