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Prev Vet Med. 2016 Sep 1;131:103-110. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2016.07.012. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

Effect of cognitive enrichment on behavior, mucosal immunity and upper respiratory disease of shelter cats rated as frustrated on arrival.

Author information

1
Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland 4343, Australia.
2
Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland 4343, Australia. Electronic address: c.phillips@uq.edu.au.

Abstract

Acquisition of resources and opportunity to engage in natural behaviors has been shown to reduce frustration-related behaviors and enhance health in nondomestic felids kept in zoos, but little is known about whether there are similar effects in domestic cats living in confinement in animal shelters. Fifteen cats rated as Frustrated during the first hour of confinement to a cage at an animal shelter were assigned to either a Treatment (n=7) or Control (n=8) group. Treatment cats were taken from their cages to a separate room four times daily for 10min each time over a 10 d period, where they took part in training sessions to learn a novel behavior (paw-hand contact with a researcher). Changes in emotional states and mucosal immune response were evaluated over 10days. Infectious status was determined upon admission and incidence of upper respiratory was determined up to day 40 based on clinical signs. Treated cats were more likely to be rated as Content than Control cats and had greater concentrations of S-IgA (537μg/g) in feces than Control cats (101μg/g). Within the Treatment group, cats that responded positively had greater concentrations of S-IgA (925μg/g) than those that responded negatively (399μg/g). Control cats were more likely to develop respiratory disease over time compared to cats that received treatment (Hazard Ratio: 2.37, Confidence Interval: 1.35-4.15). It is concluded that there is prima facie evidence that cognitive enrichment of cats exhibiting frustration-related behaviors can elicit positive affect (contentment), stimulate secretion of IgA and reduce incidence of respiratory disease, which is worthy of further study.

KEYWORDS:

Emotions; Enrichment; Frustration; Human interaction; Respiratory disease; Secretory immunoglobulin A; Shelter cats

PMID:
27544259
DOI:
10.1016/j.prevetmed.2016.07.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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