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Spatial occupation and behavior of communally housed domestic cats

Stella Fonseca, Gelson Genaro


The housing design of shelters, animal control centers, veterinary hospitals and laboratory facilities should meet the biological needs of the housed animals, in order to provide acceptable welfare. In the case of domestic cats, few studies have been conducted in order to establish the minimum parameters that will ensure the delivery of good care. The present work investigated the spatial occupation of a group of confined cats confined together. To this end, space use (ground or elevated areas) and behavior of fifty-one domestic cats were registered. Results revealed that occupation of elevated areas was significantly greater during both the day and night, compared with occupation of ground areas. In contrast with the other investigated behaviors, there were no significant differences between ground and elevated areas regarding “walking” behavior. These results point to the importance of providing elevated areas to domestic cats in confinement. In conclusion, occupation of elevated areas by confined domestic cats is significantly greater compared to occupation of ground areas. A better understanding of the space use by cats might enable a more appropriate design of housing premises in order to the biological needs of these animals, which may significantly influence their welfare in confinement.   


animal welfare; environmental enrichment; shelter

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