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Title: Stress, enrichment and the welfare of domestic cats in rescue shelters
Author: Hawkins, Kim Ray
ISNI:       0000 0001 3547 1644
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2005
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Domestic cats relinquished to shelters are thought to experience a high level of acute stress upon admission, and then undergo a generally lower level of chronic stress for weeks or months afterwards. This thesis contains three studies aimed at refining measures of cat welfare, and estimating the impact of physical and social enrichment on those measures. The first study described the time-course of stress measures in cats following admission to a rescue shelter, and their subsequent move from one part of the shelter to another. Both urinary Cortisol: Creatinine (CC) and the behavioural CatStress-Score (CSS) fell over time; they were positively correlated within cats, though negatively correlated between-cats, suggesting differing coping strategies. The second study tested the efficacy of open-sided boxes 26x36x26cm, and of increased social contact with a human on relieving stress. CC again fell over time, but no effect of box or social contact on CC was found. Boxes were used by the majority of cats, and reduced CSS, with the greatest effect occurring on the day of admission and continuing until at least day 7. Increased social contact with a known human also reduced CSS, but only when measured by the human who gave the contact, and not when measured remotely. It had no effect on approach tests by familiar or unfamiliar humans. The third study found that adding boxes of a slightly different design to the pens of long-stay cats did not significantly reduce their CSS, though the boxes were used extensively. However, removal of the boxes after two days availability caused an increase in CSS, suggesting that boxes are a valuable resource. Boxes made longstay cats less likely to make either an approach or withdrawal during approach tests.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available