Title

Stress Mitigation Techniques in Shelter Cats: Effectiveness and Usage

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. William DeWees

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Animal shelters and rehoming facilities help to provide medical care, socialization, and access to potential adopters for homeless pets around the country. Over three million cats enter into shelters each year, making shelter welfare vital. One important aspect of welfare is stress reduction, which can help lead to a decrease in illness and an increase in adoptability by way of reducing tension. In cats, stress is often hard to detect, and even some of the stress tests available underestimate the amount of stress a cat is undergoing. Mitigation techniques are invaluable in reducing this anxiety. Common techniques include shelter layout, environmental enrichment (which can refer to physical objects, handling, auditory enrichment, and olfactory enrichment, among others), pheromone usage, distance from dogs, regulation of handling and feeding times, housing type (single versus group), and frequency of cage and litter box cleaning. A review of the available literature regarding the technique types was performed, allowing for the usefulness of each to be analyzed. A survey was sent out to 242 shelters and 45 responses were recorded. This allowed actual usage of each technique to be analyzed, and found that while all shelters had some form of enrichment present, the degree of enrichment varied. The survey also found that financial and size restrictions rated highest when looking at what limited the stress reduction capabilities of the shelters. As the goal of stress reduction is important in shelters, several recommendations were made as to cost-effective techniques that could be implemented within a size-restricted shelter.

Location

South Lobby, Waterfield Library

Start Date

21-4-2016 4:30 PM

End Date

21-4-2016 6:00 PM

Affiliations

Honors Thesis

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Apr 21st, 4:30 PM Apr 21st, 6:00 PM

Stress Mitigation Techniques in Shelter Cats: Effectiveness and Usage

South Lobby, Waterfield Library

Animal shelters and rehoming facilities help to provide medical care, socialization, and access to potential adopters for homeless pets around the country. Over three million cats enter into shelters each year, making shelter welfare vital. One important aspect of welfare is stress reduction, which can help lead to a decrease in illness and an increase in adoptability by way of reducing tension. In cats, stress is often hard to detect, and even some of the stress tests available underestimate the amount of stress a cat is undergoing. Mitigation techniques are invaluable in reducing this anxiety. Common techniques include shelter layout, environmental enrichment (which can refer to physical objects, handling, auditory enrichment, and olfactory enrichment, among others), pheromone usage, distance from dogs, regulation of handling and feeding times, housing type (single versus group), and frequency of cage and litter box cleaning. A review of the available literature regarding the technique types was performed, allowing for the usefulness of each to be analyzed. A survey was sent out to 242 shelters and 45 responses were recorded. This allowed actual usage of each technique to be analyzed, and found that while all shelters had some form of enrichment present, the degree of enrichment varied. The survey also found that financial and size restrictions rated highest when looking at what limited the stress reduction capabilities of the shelters. As the goal of stress reduction is important in shelters, several recommendations were made as to cost-effective techniques that could be implemented within a size-restricted shelter.