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National Research Council (US) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. The Development of Science-based Guidelines for Laboratory Animal Care: Proceedings of the November 2003 International Workshop. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004.

Cover of The Development of Science-based Guidelines for Laboratory Animal Care

The Development of Science-based Guidelines for Laboratory Animal Care: Proceedings of the November 2003 International Workshop.

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Breakout Session: Environmental Enrichment for Dogs and Cats

Leader: Graham Moore

Rapporteur: Janet Gonder

The participants began by identifying discussion topics. Topics included enrichment beyond exercise; clarification of the use of structures (do they add or subtract from floor space?); recommendations on socialization; acquisition of animals (e.g., experience and socialization at the vendor); vertical space for dogs; exercise (what, when, how, why); and Council of Europe requirements. Most of the discussion was directed at dogs, but specific issues for cats were noted. The term “enrichment” was considered as a complete package to include housing, structures, toys, socialization (with humans and conspecifics), and exercise. Variability was thought to be of benefit.

But what really counts? Some participants posed the thought that human interaction and provision of a cage mate might suffice. Almost everyone agreed that more could be done to socialize/habituate dogs and cats to the laboratory. Early socialization of dogs is critical. Provision of an “enrichment profile” by vendors of purpose-bred dogs and cats was suggested. Of course, such provision would be difficult to achieve with random source animals, as with knowledge of health status, genetics, and so forth.

Participants listed what they thought were the key components of an integrated enrichment program. Components include socialization, exercise, pen/cage structures, and other physical enrichment items.

Socialization was thought to be critical, particularly in the early development period. This component should include socialization with humans and conspecifics, as well as habituation to the laboratory. The participants generally agreed that single housing should be specifically justified based perhaps on the experimental procedure, genetics or breed variation, specific health or husbandry issues, and individual temperament.

Participants did not think the term “exercise” per se to be a particularly helpful guidance. The Council of Europe uses the phrase “physical activity and/or experiencing novel environments.”

Participants found the following to be important when considering structures within the enclosure: privacy (may be more important for cats); some control over social interactions; separate areas for different activities; raised platforms; and subdivisions to allow visual stimulation.

Other physical enrichment might include items to allow chewing behavior in dogs; items to be used in social interactions with cagemates; items for play (pseudo-predatory behavior) in cats; and utilization of vertical space (the opportunity to climb for cats).

In summary, participants believed that institutions should have a written program of care. In addition, the use of laboratory dogs and cats should include integration of multiple components, consider factors that meet both social and behavioral needs of the animals, and take into account procedural or protocol requirements.

Copyright © 2004, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK25418


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