1962-todd.pdf: “Inheritance of the catnip response in domestic cats”, Neil B. Todd (1962):
Four behavioral components of the catnip response are described briefly. The analysis of a pedigree indicates that responding is inherited as an autosomal dominant. Other aspects of inheritance of the catnip response are discussed.
An essential oil, nepetalactone, was isolated from the catnip plant (Nepeta cataria) by McElvain et al. 2, 3, 4 and Meinwald 5. McElvain2 demonstrated with lions that the oil is the substance which is responsible for the attraction of cats to the plant and the only constituent capable of inducing a response. This familiar response has been broken down into four components, viz, 1. sniffing, 2. licking and chewing with head shaking, 3. chin and cheek rubbing and 4. head-over roll and body rubbing. None of these automatisms is unique to catnip, each of them apparently belonging normally to sexual or ingestive behavior1. These components almost invariably appear in the above sequence. In fact, among 58 responding cats, all tested with dried leaves, only 3 individuals deviated from this sequence and omitted the licking and chewing with head shaking. These animals went immediately into the rolling phase, which seemed to be exceptionally violent. Component four may last from three to six minutes before all response is extinguished. Additional behavior patterns noted occasionally are claw sharpening and washing, both of which occur as displacement activities in the ethological sense in sexual behavior1.
Among responding animals the response may occasionally be inhibited for obscure reasons, necessitating repeated testing of non-responders before drawing conclusions. Also, the response is not manifested in kittens under 6 to 8 weeks of age and may not develop fully until three months of age. In fact, catnip often produces a distinct avoidance response in young kittens which is gradually replaced by indifference in non-responders and by heightened curiosity in responders. Whether nursing is in any way connected with inhibiting the response has not yet been determined. In one case a 6- to 7-week-old nursing kitten gave a total response, but this seems exceptional. A distressed or enraged animal may still respond, and neutering appears to have no effect on behavior towards catnip.
1963-konecny.pdf: “Behavioral Ecology of Feral House Cats in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador”, Michael John Konecny (1963):
Feral house cats (Felis catus) were studied at two sites in the Galapagos Islands. Visual observations, fecal collections, and radio telemetry data were gathered to elucidate their ecology and social organization. 68% of all cats trapped were adults; the adult sex ratio was 2.62 males per female. The density of adult cats at both sites was approximately two cats per square kilometer, although the habitat at each site differed in structure and quality.
Transect analyses revealed that there were temporal fluctuations in prey abundance, while the numbers consumed were often different. There were seasonal differences in diet breadth; the diet was broader in the dry season. A posteriori attempts to determine prey preferences indicated that rats, small birds, lava lizards, and grasshoppers were consumed most frequently. A comparison of estimated daily energy intake and daily energy requirements for males and females indicated that males and pregnant and lactating females probably face energy stresses. The energy stress on pregnant and lactating females may be severe, contributing to their apparent greater mortality.
The plotted movements of radio-collared cats revealed large differences in home range size between sexes and sites. At Cerro Colorado the home ranges were larger and more overlapping than those at Tagus Cove. In the qualitatively richer habitat of Cerro Colorado locations were concentrated near the coast, while those at Tagus Cove were more diffuse. Plots of daily movements revealed that foraging paths at Cerro Colorado crisscrossed frequently, while paths were essentially straight at Tagus Cove. The activity cycle was bimodally crepuscular with the lowest activity in the early afternoon.
Little aggression was seen during dominance interactions at Cerro Colorado, while no interactions were observed at Tagus Cove. From all the collected data it was hypothesized that feral cats are solitary, opportunistic predators with broad diets. Differences in habitat quality between sites resulted in different social organizations, with a dominance hierarchy at Cerro Colorado and olfactory-mediated territoriality at Tagus Cove.
1989-mellen.pdf: “Reproductive behavior of small captive exotic cats (Felis spp.)”, Jill Denise Mellen (1989):
The focus of this dissertation was on species in the genus, Felis, maintained in captivity. With the exception of the domestic cat, all species of small cats (Felis) are threatened or endangered in at least some portion of their original range and although captive propagation of some groups of animals has facilitated their preservation, zoos have not been particularly successful in breeding small cats. These felids reproduce inconsistently, at best, in captivity. The purpose of this dissertation research was to examine behavioral aspects of reproduction of small cats (Felis) in a captive environment, to determine why reproductive success is limited, and to offer suggestions for improving their reproductive potential.
- Part I of the dissertation examined whether or not estrus could be detected and monitored solely through systematic behavioral observations. The behavior of 61 individuals representing 15 species of felids housed at 7 zoological institutions was systematically recorded for a total of 485 hours. Estrus was detectable using behavioral observations. In addition, it was found that compatibility of a pair and specific behavioral indicators of estrus could be determined through behavioral observations. Other reproductive parameters, e.g., length of estrus and gestation, birth season, litter size, and age at maturity, were gleaned from zoo records. Information on size of captive populations and level of inbreeding for these species was also collected and analyzed.
- In Part II of this dissertation, the effects of early rearing experience on subsequent adult sexual behavior were examined. It is a pervasive opinion among zoo professionals that hand/
human-raised felids are less likely to reproduce than are maternally-raised cats. However, numerous exceptions, i.e., hand-raised cats, have reproduced. An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of hand-rearing on adult sexual behavior, using domestic cats as a model for captive small exotic cats. Results from this experiment demonstrate that hand-rearing substantially reduces the cats’ ability to reproduce. Implications for rearing techniques in zoo nurseries are discussed.
- Part III of this dissertation presents suggestions for the management of these cats in captivity, both at the level of the individual (husbandry protocol) and at the level of the captive population (population management).
1993-bourrel.pdf: “Catnip (Nepeta cataria L.) Essential Oil: Analysis of Chemical Constituents, Bacteriostatic and Fungistatic Properties”, C. Bourrel, F. Perineau, G. Michel, J. M. Bessiere (1993):
The composition of the essential oil of flowering catnip (Nepeta cataria L., Lamiaceae) was analyzed by means of GC/
Besides the already known nepetalactones 4aα, 7α, 7aα-nepetalactone; 3,4β-dihydro-4aα, 7α, 7aα-nepetalactone; 4aα, 7α, 7aβ-nepetalactone and β-caryophyllene, five new constituents were identified: dimethyl-3,7 oxa-1 bicyclo [3,3,0] oct-2-ene, piperitone, thymol methyl ether, hexenyl benzoate and humulene oxide. The essential oil of two samples of the plant, collected at two different stages of development, was compared as to their nepetalactone content. The oil samples and a hexane extract were subjected to microbiological tests (five bacteria and seven fungi) and compared to natural compounds known for their antimicrobiological activities. [Keyword: Nepeta cataria, Labiatae, catnip, essential oil composition, nepetalactones, bacteriostatic activitym fungistatic activity]
1995-trudgian.pdf: “A Study Of Captive Brown–Nosed Coatis, Nasua Nasua: An Ethogram And Contact Call Analysis”, Melissa A. Trudgian (1995-05-01):
This study investigated the behavior and communication of captive brown-nosed coatis, Nasua nasua.
An ethogram was obtained by observing and recording the behaviors of a group of five animals at the Denver Zoological Gardens in Denver, Colorado. Contact calls were recorded and analyzed using sound spectrographs. All vocalizations heard were paired with the behavioral context in which they were emitted to reveal the potential function of the call.
Ethogram results indicated behaviors that are similar to those found in wild coatis. Vocalization analysis indicated that the coati contact calls contain signature frequencies. These individual contact calls would be beneficial to this social species in maintaining contact with relatives. The coatis also emitted ultrasonic frequencies in their contact calls.
Individual acoustic frequencies and ultrasound use would be beneficial for this social species in maintaining contact in dense vegetation while minimizing detection by predators.
1997-chalchat.pdf: “Chemical Composition of the Essential Oil Isolated from Wild Catnip Nepeta cataria L. cv. citriodora from the Drôme Region of France”, Jean-Claude Chalchat, Jacques Lamy (1997):
Nepeta cataria L. cv. citriodora growing wild in the Drôme region of France was brought into cultivation. Oils produced from cultivated plants harvested throughout the growing season were analyzed by GC and GC/
Although 42 components were identified, the oil composition did not depend on the time of harvesting or storage of the plant material prior to distillation. The oil was found to comprise mainly of citronellol (11.44–16.73%), nerol (19.95–30.70%), geraniol (25.13–31.00%) and geranial (4.93–11.05%). The highest oil yield was found to be at the time of full flowering. [Keyword: Nepeta cataria L. cv. _citriodora, Labiata, essential oil composition, citronellol, citronellyl acetate, geranial, nerol, geraniol]
1997-edwards.pdf: “Field Evaluation of Olfactory Lures for Feral Cats (Felis catus L.) in Central Australia”, G. P. Edwards, K. C. Piddington, R. M. Paltridge (1997):
Field trials were conducted in central Australia to evaluate the ability of various olfactory lures to attract feral cats (Felis catus L.).
Ten food-based lures, one plant extract and two scent-based lures (anal-gland preparations from male and female cats) were evaluated on the basis of visitation rates and elicited behavioural responses. A visual lure composed of bird feathers was also tested in conjunction with the scent-based lures.
One food-based lure (sun-rendered prawn) and both of the scent-based lures were found to attract feral cats. The visual lure did not enhance the attractiveness of the scent-based lures.
The possible uses and relative advantages of these lures in control programmes and in ecological studies of cats are discussed.
1999-bradshaw-2.pdf: “Affiliative behaviour of related and unrelated pairs of cats in catteries: a preliminary report”, John W. S. Bradshaw, Suzanne L. Hall (1999-04-23):
Social ties between free-ranging cats are largely confined to related females, yet multicat households often contain unrelated cats. We have investigated whether unrelated pairs of cats from the same household are less affiliative towards one another than pairs of littermates, by observing their behaviour while confined in catteries. We found that littermates spent more time in physical contact with one another, groomed one another more often, and were more likely to feed close to one another than unrelated cats. The most likely explanation for this difference is that ties are established between individual cats during the socialisation period (3–8 weeks), and persist throughout life if the cats continue to live together. [Keywords: cat kinship, social behaviour, socialisation, spacing behaviour]
1999-bradshaw.pdf: “Feral cats: their role in the population dynamics of Felis catus”, J.W.S. Bradshaw, G. F. Horsfield, J.A. Allen, I.H. Robinson (1999-12):
The so-called domestic cat occupies a unique position within the truly domestic animals since it freely interbreeds with feral populations, and there is considerable gene flow in both directions. This is possible because the likelihood of an individual cat forming a relationship with people is strongly affected by its experiences during the socialisation period (3–8 weeks of age), although this does not preclude differences between owned and feral populations in the relative frequencies of alleles which affect social behaviour towards humans. We suggest a hitherto unconsidered reason why a separate domesticated population of cats (apart from pedigree breeds) has not yet emerged: the unusual and stringent nutrient requirements of the cat may historically have militated against successful breeding on a completely human-provided diet, and led to the retention of the ability to achieve a nutritionally complete diet by scavenging and/
or hunting. More recently, the widespread availability of nutritionally complete manufactured foods and veterinary care in western countries appears to be leading towards a rapid change in the population dynamics and population genetics of both owned and feral cats. [Keywords: Domestication, Feral populations, Population dynamics, Cat]
2002-hall.pdf: “Object play in adult domestic cats: the roles of habituation and disinhibition”, Sarah L. Hall, John W.S. Bradshaw, Ian H. Robinson (2002-11):
We have investigated the role of habituation and disinhibition in the control of object (predatory) play by adult domestic cats Felis silvestris catus both with and without prior experience of hunting. We hypothesised that object play is terminated by rapid habituation to the sensory characteristics of the object played with, and therefore should be disinhibited if the sensory characteristics of the object are changed. Three sequential sessions of play with an unchanging object (a toy) caused almost complete habituation of the play response; replacing the toy with one of contrasting colours in a fourth session elicited intense disinhibited play, suggesting that motivation for play itself had not diminished substantially during the first three sessions. The time interval between sessions affected the extent of disinhibition. After a long delay (25–45 min) between each session play was less intense in the fourth session than in the first; if the interval was 5 min, it was more intense, indicative of post-inhibitory rebound, possibly caused by initial positive feedback of play on its own performance. We suggest that object play by adult cats is controlled by two mechanisms derived from predatory behaviour: one responds to prey-like stimulus characteristics, such as texture and small size, which elicit play, while the second detects change in the toy. The behavioural default towards any object is initial interest if it possesses relevant stimulus characteristics, followed by rapid habituation unless these stimulus characteristics change.
2002-soennichsen.pdf: “Responses of cats to petting by humans”, Susan Soennichsen, Arnold S. Chamove (2002):
There is evidence that different gland areas in animals of the cat family have different functions.
This study showed that 9 cats gave more positive and fewer negative responses to petting by their owners in the temporal region (between the eyes and ears), the reverse to petting in the caudal region (around the tail), with the perioral (chin and lips) and non-gland areas intermediate.
This suggests that cats prefer being petted in certain body areas. [Keywords: allomones, Felis catus, interspecific rubbing, pheromones, scent marking glands]
2003-siegford.pdf: “Validation of a temperament test for domestic cats”, Janice M. Siegford, Sally O. Walshaw, Petra Brunner, Adroaldo J. Zanell (2003):
Cats are popular companion animals, particularly in Europe and North America, and appear in correspondingly large numbers in animal shelters. Temperament tests are not widely used to assess cats before adoption from shelters. However, cats exhibit a wide range of temperaments as do the families adopting them and ensuring compatibility between the two could increase the rate of successful placement.
Scores on a feline temperament profile (FTP), which measures a cat’s responses to standardized interactions with an unfamiliar person, were compared between cats and over time and related to responses of cats to familiar and unfamiliar persons and to basal salivary cortisol levels. Cats showed statistically-significant differences in FTP scores (p < 0.001). Ranking cats according to FTP scores resulted in three distinct groups of cats. Over eight months, changes in FTP scores were minor, with cats scoring somewhat more acceptably and less questionably following adoption. Acceptable scores on pre-adoption FTPs were positively correlated with (1) positive responses to familiar caretakers in housing rooms (p = 0.01) and (2) average percentages of time spent near either unfamiliar men or women in open field tests in novel rooms (p = 0.01 in both instances). Thus, cats displaying general positive responses to humans did so in both familiar and test environments and with familiar and unfamiliar persons. No correlation was seen between FTP scores and basal salivary cortisol levels (p>0.05), though there were statistically-significant differences in cortisol levels between cats (p = 0.04).
The data indicate that the FTP was relatively stable over time for adult cats, and test scores correlated well with ethological observations of cats’ interactions with humans. The FTP could provide an accurate, consistent assessment of cat temperament, leading to more successful placement of cats.
2008-ellis.pdf: “The influence of visual stimulation on the behaviour of cats housed in a rescue shelter”, Sarah L. H. Ellis, Deborah L. Wells (2008-09-01):
This study explored the influence of 5 types of visual stimulation (1 control condition [no visual stimulation] and 4 experimental conditions [blank television screen; and, televised images depicting humans, inanimate movement, animate movement]) on the behaviour of 125 cats housed in a rescue shelter. 25 cats were randomly assigned to one of the five conditions of visual stimulation for 3 h a day for 3 days. Each cat’s behaviour was recorded every 5 min throughout each day of exposure to the visual stimuli.
Cats spent relatively little of the total observation time (6.10%) looking at the television monitors. Animals exposed to the programmes depicting animate and inanimate forms of movement spent statistically-significantly more of their time looking at the monitors than those exposed to the moving images of humans or the blank screen. The amount of attention that the cats directed towards the television monitors decreased statistically-significantly across their 3 h of daily presentation, suggesting habituation. Certain components of the cats’ behaviour were influenced by visual stimulation. Animals in the animate movement condition spent statistically-significantly less time sleeping, and displayed a non-significant trend to spend more time resting, and in the exercise area of their pens, than those in the other conditions of visual stimulation.
Overall, the results from this study suggest that visual stimulation in the form of two-dimensional video-tape sequences, notably that combining elements of prey items and linear movement, may hold some enrichment potential for domestic cats housed in rescue shelters. Such animals, however, may not benefit from this type of enrichment to the same degree as species with more well-developed visual systems, such as primates. [Keywords: behaviour, cats, enrichment, rescue shelters, television, visual stimulation, welfare]
2010-lilith.pdf: “Do Cat Restrictions Lead to Increased Species Diversity or Abundance of Small and Medium-sized Mammals in Remnant Urban Bushland?”, Maggie Lilith, Michael Calver, Mark Garkaklis (2010):
We took advantage of cat regulations enacted within differing subdivisions in the City of Armadale, Western Australia, to test the hypotheses that the species diversity (measured by the Shannon-Weiner index) and abundance of small and medium-sized mammals should be higher in native bushland within or adjacent to subdivisions where cats are restricted compared to similar areas where cats are not restricted. There were three different regimes of cat regulation: no-cat zone (strict prohibition of cat ownership applying in one site), compulsory belling of cats and night curfew at one site, and unregulated zones (free-roaming cats applying at two sites). Both sets of cat regulations were in place for approximately 10 years prior to our survey. We also measured structural and floristic features of the vegetation at each site that might influence the species diversity and abundance of small and medium-sized mammals independently or interactively with cat activity. No statistically-significant differences in species diversity were found across the sites and KTBA (known-to-be-alive) statistics for Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula and Southern Brown Bandicoots Isoodon obesulus, the two most abundant medium-sized mammals present, were similar across all sites. The smaller Mardo Antechinus flavipes, which could be regarded as the most susceptible to cat predation of all the native species trapped because of its size, was trapped mostly at an unregulated cat site. Total mammals trapped at the unregulated cat sites exceeded those caught at the two sites with restrictions, but these unregulated sites also had significantly denser vegetation and there was a borderline (p = 0.05) rank correlation between vegetation density and mammal captures across all sites. It appears that pet cats are not the major influence on the species diversity or abundance of small and medium-sized mammals at these sites and that vegetation characteristics may be more important.
2011-villani.pdf: “Heritability and Characteristics of Catnip Response in Two Domestic Cat Populations”, Natalie Adele Villani (2011):
The domestic cat response to catnip is unique in nature as it represents a repeatable, recognizable behavioral response to an olfactory stimulus that appears to have little evolutionary importance. There is clear variation in response between cats and this has been attributed to genetic factors in the past. These factors are explored in this study using behavioral observation after presenting of catnip to cats in two different research colonies with different environmental and genetic backgrounds. The response trait is defined and Gibbs sampling methods are used to explore a mixed model for the trait to determine genetic effects. Heritabilities obtained in the two colonies for the most important response behaviors, the head over roll and cheek rub, were 0.511 and 0.794 using catnip spray and dried catnip respectively. No clear Mendelian mode of inheritance was ascertained in either colony. The variation in response behaviors and intensity seen in the two colonies reflects the complex nature of expression of the catnip response, but there is a clear genetic influence on the feline predisposition to responding.
2014-volk.pdf: “Executive summary of phase 3 of the Bayer veterinary care usage study”, John O. Volk, James G. Thomas, Elizabeth J. Colleran, Colin W. Siren (2014-04-01):
The annual number of feline visits to veterinarians decreased 14% from 2001 to 2011, according to the 2012 US Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook published by the AVMA, despite an increase in the cat population during that period.1 Earlier research conducted by Bayer Healthcare Animal Health in cooperation with Brakke Consulting Inc and the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) showed that feline resistance to carriers and transportation was a formidable obstacle for many cat owners in taking their pet to the veterinarian.2
To probe more deeply into why cats are not taken to the veterinarian more often and to determine what veterinarians can do to improve feline medical care, Bayer and Brakke collaborated with the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) to examine the issue more closely. Bayer, Brakke, and the AAFP conducted focus group sessions as well as nationally representative surveys with cat owners and veterinarians.
…Four major reasons cat owners did not take their cats to the veterinarian for routine annual examinations were identified: lack of knowledge, feline resistance to pet carriers and travel, stressful experiences in the veterinary hospital, and cost.
Unlike the situation for dogs, most cats were acquired for free and without forethought. Many were gifts from family or friends or simply strays that showed up on the doorstep. Consequently, most cat owners received little or no initial instruction on proper veterinary care for their new pet. Only 48% of cat owners surveyed had taken their cat to the veterinarian within the preceding year. Many (37%) did not recall their veterinarian ever recommending annual examinations. Further, owners perceived that indoor cats were less likely to get sick and were unaware that cats are adept at hiding signs of illness or injury. The first phase of the Bayer veterinary care usage study2 established that feline resistance to pet carriers and travel was a major obstacle to veterinary visits. During focus group sessions conducted for the present phase of the study, cat owners were asked to make collages demonstrating what taking their cat to the veterinarian is like. Most of the collages used pictures from horror films and other sources that reflected a terrible and stressful experience for the cat and owner. Yet, only 18% of cat owners surveyed said they had received any instruction from their veterinarian on how to make bringing the cat to the hospital less stressful.
Once the owner dealt with getting the cat to the veterinary practice, the stress did not end there. More than half of cat owners (57%) were less than completely satisfied with waiting room comfort for their cats, and nearly the same percentage were less than completely satisfied with waiting room comfort for themselves. It was clear from the focus group sessions that for most owners, a veterinary visit was something to be dreaded and endured.
Finally, when asked how satisfied they were with their veterinary experience, cat owners were least satisfied with the value obtained for the money they spent, with 59% rating this factor lowest in satisfaction. When asked which items on a list of 16 concepts would motivate them to take their cat to the veterinarian more often, the top 3 items were cost related: a coupon for 50% off the cost of a veterinary visit (50% of respondents), a low-cost preventive care plan paid monthly (40%), and a 20% discount for multiple pets if brought in within a 30-day period (30%). The cost issue was all the more important because many owners indicated during focus group sessions that they had cats primarily because they perceived cats as low-cost pets.
…Many veterinarians recognized that transporting cats to the veterinary hospital was a major obstacle; however, most had not taken action to address the issue. Only 24% of respondents to the veterinary survey said they always (3%) or often (21%) provided specific instructions to clients on making the visit less stressful. However, 41% of veterinarians said they had made changes to reduce feline stress within their practice, and 70% had conducted some type of staff training.
…59% of respondents to the cat owner survey agreed with the statement that “I didn’t necessarily find the cat, the cat found me.”
…In focus group discussions, cat owners were generally incredulous when told that their cat could be sick without them knowing it because cats are adept at hiding signs of illness. In the quantitative survey, only 70% of cat owners said they believed the following statement: “Cats have the ability to endure pain and suffering without any outward signs and could be sick without your knowing about it unless it has periodic checkups at the veterinarian.” Interestingly, this statement scored the lowest (in terms of percentage of owners who believed the statement) of 6 truthful statements about cat health.
2017-ottoni.pdf: “The palaeogenetics of cat dispersal in the ancient world”, Claudio Ottoni, Wim Van Neer, Bea De Cupere, Julien Daligault, Silvia Guimaraes, Joris Peters, Nikolai Spassov, Mary E. Prendergast, Nicole Boivin, Arturo Morales-Muñiz, Adrian Bălăşescu, Cornelia Becker, Norbert Benecke, Adina Boroneant, Hijlke Buitenhuis, Jwana Chahoud, Alison Crowther, Laura Llorente, Nina Manaseryan, Hervé Monchot, Vedat Onar, Marta Osypińska, Olivier Putelat, Eréndira M. Quintana Morales, Jacqueline Studer, Ursula Wierer, Ronny Decorte, Thierry Grange, Eva-Maria Geigl (2017-06-19):
The cat has long been important to human societies as a pest-control agent, object of symbolic value and companion animal, but little is known about its domestication process and early anthropogenic dispersal. Here we show, using ancient DNA analysis of geographically and temporally widespread archaeological cat remains, that both the Near Eastern and Egyptian populations of Felis silvestris lybica contributed to the gene pool of the domestic cat at different historical times. While the cat’s worldwide conquest began during the Neolithic period in the Near East, its dispersal gained momentum during the Classical period, when the Egyptian cat successfully spread throughout the Old World. The expansion patterns and ranges suggest dispersal along human maritime and terrestrial routes of trade and connectivity. A coat-colour variant was found at high frequency only after the Middle Ages, suggesting that directed breeding of cats occurred later than with most other domesticated animals.
2019-abbate.pdf: “A Defense of Free-Roaming Cats from a Hedonist Account of Feline Well-being”, C.E. Abbate (2019-10-26):
There is a widespread belief that for their own safety and for the protection of wildlife, cats should be permanently kept indoors. Against this view, I argue that cat guardians have a duty to provide their feline companions with outdoor access. The argument is based on a sophisticated hedonistic account of animal well-being that acknowledges that the performance of species-normal ethological behavior is especially pleasurable. Territorial behavior, which requires outdoor access, is a feline-normal ethological behavior, so when a cat is permanently confined to the indoors, her ability to flourish is impaired. Since cat guardians have a duty not to impair the well-being of their cats, the impairment of cat flourishing via confinement signifies a moral failing. Although some cats assume substantial risks and sometimes kill wild animals when roaming outdoors, these important considerations do not imply that all cats should be deprived of the opportunity to access the outdoors. Indeed, they do not, by themselves, imply that any cat should be permanently kept indoors.
2019-hart.pdf: “Characterization of plant eating in cats”, Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart, Abigail P. Thigpen (2019-08-05):
[Conference abstract reporting cat owner survey (n = 1021) about plant-eating & health, with similar results as dogs. Cats are frequently seen eating plants (only 11% never), usually appear healthy, vomit semi-frequently afterwards, and do so more frequently when younger.]
…71% of cats had been seen eating plants at least 6 times, 61% over 10 times, and 11% never eating plants. Comparing cats seen eating plants at least 10 times with those never seen eating plants, there were no differences in age range, neuter status, source or number of cats in the household. Of cats seen eating plants at least 10 times, 67% were estimated to eat plants daily or weekly. When asked about how their cat seemed to feel prior to eating plants, 91% of respondents said their cat was almost always appeared normal, beforehand. Vomiting was a bit more common—27% reported the cat frequently vomiting after eating plants. The prior study on plant eating by dogs had very similar findings with regard to frequency of plant eating, appearing normal beforehand, and vomiting 20–30% of the time afterwards. Among young cats, 3 years of age or less, 39% engaged in daily plant eating compared to 27% of cats 4 years or older (p < 0.01). While percentage of younger cats showing no signs of illness prior plant eating was similar to older cats, just 11% of the younger cats were observed to frequently vomit after eating plants compared to a statistically-significantly higher 30% of older cats (p < 0.001).
2019-jones.pdf: “Black Cat Bias: Prevalence and Predictors”, Haylie D. Jones, Christian L. Hart (2019-04-29):
There is anecdotal and empirical evidence for black cat bias, the phenomenon where cats (Felis silvestris catus) with black coats are viewed more negatively, adopted less often, and euthanized more often than lighter colored cats. Despite the anecdotal claims, there is scarce empirical evidence for black cat bias. Using evaluations of cat photos, the researchers examined differences in people’s attitudes toward black and non-black cats of various colorations on measures of perceived aggression, perceived friendliness, and willingness to adopt. The researchers also explored whether participants’ levels of religiosity, superstitious beliefs, and prejudicial racial attitudes were related to black cat bias. Finally, the researchers explored whether black cat bias was related to difficulties people had in reading the emotions of black cats compared to non-black cats. This study provided evidence of black cat bias in the sample. People exhibiting higher degrees of black cat bias had higher levels of superstition, but not religiosity or racial prejudice. Additionally, people who had difficulty reading the emotions of black cats tended to exhibit a stronger bias against adopting black cats.
2020-fischer.pdf: “Keep Your Cats Indoors: a Reply to Abbate”, Bob Fischer (2020-05-11):
Abbate (2019) argues that, under certain conditions, cat guardians have a moral duty to allow their feline companions to roam freely outdoors. She contends that outdoor access is crucial to feline flourishing, which means that, in general, to keep cats indoors permanently is to harm them. She grants that, in principle, we could justify preventing cats from roaming based on the fact that some cats kill wildlife. However, she points out that not all cats are guilty of this charge, and she argues that, in any case, cats do not cause more harm to wildlife—and may actually cause less—than those animals would suffer anyway. I criticize both of these replies, arguing that cat guardians have a responsibility not to let their cats harm wildlife; that cat guardians usually do not know whether their cats kill wildlife; and that, on balance, cat caused harms to wildlife may well outweigh the harms that cats suffer when confined.
2020-kays.pdf: “The small home ranges and large local ecological impacts of pet cats”, R. Kays, R. R. Dunn, A. W. Parsons, B. Mcdonald, T. Perkins, S. A. Powers, L. Shell, J. L. McDonald, H. Cole, H. Kikillus, L. Woods, H. Tindle, P. Roetman (2020-03-11):
Domestic cats (Felis catus) are a conservation concern because they kill billions of native prey each year, but without spatial context the ecological importance of pets as predators remains uncertain. We worked with citizen scientists to track 925 pet cats from six countries, finding remarkably small home ranges (3.6 ± 5.6 ha). Only three cats ranged > 1 km2 and we found no relationship between home range size and the presence of larger native predators (i.e. coyotes, Canis latrans). Most (75%) cats used primarily (90%) disturbed habitats. Owners reported that their pets killed an average of 3.5 prey items/
month, leading to an estimated ecological impact per cat of 14.2–38.9 prey ha−1 yr−1. This is similar or higher than the per-animal ecological impact of wild carnivores but the effect is amplified by the high density of cats in neighborhoods. As a result, pet cats around the world have an ecological impact greater than native predators but concentrated within ~100 m of their homes.
2020-li.pdf: “Where there are girls, there are cats”, Yuhang Li, Yue Wan, Yigui Zhang, Zhaomei Gong, Zhongqiu Li (2020-02-10):
The growing population of outdoor free-ranging cats poses an increasingly serious threat to biodiversity. Identifying the strategies that outdoor free-ranging cats apply to live with humans is an interesting research topic. In this study, we provided robust estimates of free-ranging cat density in 30 universities in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. We found that the population density of free-ranging cats is linearly related to the proportion of female students in the university. An online questionnaire confirmed that human females were more concerned about the living conditions of free-ranging cats than human males in China. By contrast, a socialization test on 27 free-ranging cats suggests that the cats may have the ability to distinguish human sex and adopt a sociable skill to human females. This study leaves an interesting coevolution story between humans and cats and suggests that human sex may be an important factor to consider in cat population managements and wildlife conservation. [Keywords: Free-ranging cat, Feral cat, Human sex ratio, Socialization test]
2021-abbate.pdf: “Re-defending Feline Liberty: a Response to Fischer”, C.E. Abbate (2021-01-13):
In response to my (2019) defense of house-based, free-roaming cats, Bob Fischer (Acta Analytica 35 (3): 463–468, 2020) argues that cat guardians have a duty to permanently confine their felines to the indoors. His main argument is that house-based cats cause an all-things-considered harm to the animals they kill and that this harm is not outweighed by the harm cats endure as a consequence of feline imprisonment. He moreover claims that while we can justify the restriction of feline liberty because cats are not “full agents” and are under our care, we cannot justify restricting the liberty of “full agents” who are not under our care. Against Fischer, I argue that even if cats cause an all-things-considered harm to wildlife, the harm of permanent confinement is a greater harm. Moreover, I challenge Fischer’s claim that cats are not full agents and his claim that we can justify permanently confining creatures under our care. Thus, as I previously argued, cat guardians have a duty to, under certain conditions, provide outdoor access to their felines.
2021-carlisle.pdf: “Exploratory study of cat adoption in families of children with autism: Impact on children's social skills and anxiety”, Gretchen K. Carlisle, Rebecca A. Johnson, Ze Wang, Jessica Bibbo, Nancy Cheak-Zamora, Leslie A. Lyons (2020-12-06):
- First randomized controlled trial of cat adoption in families of children with ASD.
- Adoption of temperament screened shelter cat may benefit children with ASD.
- Positive exploratory findings indicate need for study with larger sample.
Purpose: The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) occurs in one in 54 children and companion animals (CA) are common in families of children with ASD. Despite evidence of CA ownership benefits for children with ASD, little is known about cats. The purpose was to explore the impact of shelter cat adoption by families of children with ASD.
Design and methods: This was the first randomized controlled trial of adoption of a temperament screened cat by families of children with ASD. Families assigned to the treatment group adopted a cat and were followed for 18 weeks. Families assigned to the control group were followed for 18 weeks without intervention, then converted to treatment, by adopting a cat and were followed another 18 weeks. Adopted cats were screened using the Feline Temperament Profile to identify a calm temperament. Surveys measured children’s social skills and anxiety and parent/
child cat bonding.
Results: Our study (n = 11) found cat adoption was associated with greater Empathy and less Separation Anxiety for children with ASD, along with fewer problem behaviors including Externalizing, Bullying and Hyperactivity/
Inattention. Parents and children reported strong bonds to the cats.
Conclusion: This exploratory study found introduction of a cat into the home may have a positive impact on children with ASD and their parents. Based on this initial finding, future studies with larger sample sizes are recommended.
Practice implications: If parents of children with ASD are considering cat adoption, health care providers might consider recommending adoption of a cat screened for calm temperament. [Keywords: children with autism spectrum disorder, companion animals, cats, social skills, pets]