Effectiveness of providing a box, or partially covering the cage front, on reducing cat stress
Monday, July 2, 2018
Background:To reduce stress of hospitalised cats, literature advises providing cats with the opportunity to hide using either a box, or partially covering the cage front. While studies have found benefits of the box method, there is currently no evidence for efficacy of the partial cover.Aim:To investigate whether providing hospitalised cats with either a box or a partial towel cover to the front of the cage reduced stress levels, and whether each of these methods was sufficient in prodiving hiding opportunity.Methods:To investigate this, 42 healthy pet cats that were admitted to a veterinary practice for routine neutering were provided with either a hide box, a partial towel cover to the front of the cage or neither treatment. Behavioural observations were taken for 60 minutes recording: 1) Kessler and Turner's Cat Stress Score (CSS), 2) Location within the cage, 3) Hide seeking behaviour, and 4) Use of treatment.Results:The results showed a significant difference in CSS between cats with a box and the control cats (p=0.007), but not between cats with towel cover and the control cats (p=0.069). There was no significant difference in CSS between box cats and towel cats (p=0.406), but those with a box hid in it 68% of the time, significantly more than the towel cats used the towel (n=30%) (p=0.027). There was a significant difference in hide seeking behaviour between all treatments (p=0.016). A positive correlation was found between CSS and hide seeking behaviour within all groups (rs=0.673), and this was stronger when analysed in control cats only (rs=0.829).Conclusions:Findings suggest that a box provides opportunity to hide and appears to reduce behavioural signs of stress. Though a partial cover may also help, there is not significant evidence for its efficacy in providing hiding opportunity or reducing stress.
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