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Title: Sensory enrichment for cats (Felis silvestris catus) housed in an animal rescue shelter
Author: Ellis, Sarah Lesley Helen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3446 5672
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2008
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Thousands of cats are housed in rescue shelters worldwide. Unfortunately, the welfare of these animals is often compromised. Environmental enrichment is' frequently used in an attempt to improve the physical and psychological well-being of sheltered cats. To date, the use of sensory enrichment for such animals has been overlooked. This thesis thus aimed to explore the potential value of sensory stimulation as a method of enrichment for cats residing in one of the leading feline rescue charities in the United Kingdom, Cats Protection. Four experiments were conducted; the first assessed the general behaviour exhibited by cats in the rescue shelter in order to establish baseline levels of activity, while the subsequent three experiments explored the effects of sensory enrichment (visual, olfactory and auditory) on the behaviour and welfare ofsuch animals. For all experiments, cats were studied for three hours a day for three days. Each animal's behaviour was recorded every five minutes over the three hours oftesting per day using time-sampling. Results from the experiments indicated that the cats were experiencing some degree of chronic stress likely to be associated with boredom. Some of the sensory stimulations had a positive effect upon the behaviour and welfare of the animals studied. Visual stimulation, particularly that combining elements of prey items and linear movement, was considered the most effective type of environmental enrichment. Olfactory stimulation in the form of catnip also offered welfare advantages, promoting play and behavioural diversity. Auditory stimulation had inconclusive results on the behaviour of the sheltered cats, and at this stage is not recommended as a form of environmental enrichment for such animals. Overall, it is concluded that certain types of sensory stimulation harbour enrichment potential for sheltered cats. Further long-term studies in this area are highly advocated, however, before generalised conclusions can be drawn.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available