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Does the Feline Fort® reduce stress in feline inpatients within a veterinary surgery and is it any better than a cardboard box or no hideaway at all?

02 December 2018
11 mins read
Volume 9 · Issue 10



Reducing stress experienced by hospitalised cats within a veterinary practice is important not only in welfare terms but also to reduce physiological responses that can interfere with diagnosis and recovery. Hideaways such as igloo beds, boxes or similar are anecdotally reported to reduce stress for cats in general, but limited research has been carried out within veterinary practice. The charity Cats Protection recently marketed the ‘Feline Fort’ for use in its adoption centres and suggested it may be also useful within veterinary practice.


To compare the use of the Feline Fort to a disposable cardboard box, and also to assess whether having any hideaway at all reduced stress compared to having no hideaway at all within veterinary practice.


21 cats were recruited from a veterinary practice with owner consent. Each cat was randomly allocated to groups where they were given either the Feline Fort (n=6), a cardboard box (n=7) or no hideaway at all (control group) (n=8). Cat stress was measured by scoring cats on an adapted ethogram based on one developed by Kessler and Turner (1997).


Results showed that 50% (n=3) of the cats that were provided with the Feline Fort utilised the resource. However only five of the 13 cats (38%) provided with either hideaway utilised. There was no significant difference (Kruskal-Wallis test: H2 =0.28, p=0.868) between the choices of hideaways. In addition, statistical analysis suggested that the provision of a hideaway within this sample did not reduce stress in cats.


Due to sample size and problems encountered with data collection the authors suggest repeating the research with an increased sample size before extrapolating the findings.

Cats are known to exhibit stress during hospitalisation within veterinary practice. Although studies have previously looked into reducing stress for cats in rescue centres (McCobb et al 2005; Kry and Casey, 2007; Godijn, 2013; Moore and Bain, 2013; Vinke et al 2014; Arhant et al, 2015) and catteries (Kessler and Turner, 1997; Rochlitz et al, 1998), there is less literature for those in veterinary practice where it could be argued that cats experience unique stress due to illness, medical or surgical procedures (Trevorrow, 2013; Cherry, 2014; Hewson, 2014; Ellis, 2015).

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