Behavioral differences between owner surrender and stray domestic cats after entering an animal shelter

Kathryn Dybdall, Rosemary Strasser, Tanja Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Animals entering a shelter environment may behave differently upon arrival depending upon their previous experiences and life history. To examine this, 86 domestic cats were scored using a seven-level behavioral measure for the first 3 days upon entering an animal shelter. Data were then grouped according to cats surrendered by their owner (OS) or found stray (S). Results indicate that OS cats showed the greatest behavioral measures of stress and arousal compared to S cats. Of the cats that were euthanized due to illness or disease, the mean behavioral stress rating was significantly higher in the OS group versus the S group. Examining archival data from 260 shelter cats that developed an upper respiratory infection (URI), the OS cats became ill significantly sooner than the S cats. These findings suggest that OS cats experience greater behavioral stress after entering a shelter environment, which may subsequently influence their health and well being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume104
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2007

Keywords

  • Animal shelters
  • Animal welfare
  • Cats
  • Disease
  • Immune system
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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