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Title: Social Dynamics and Space Utility of Domestic Cats Felis Silverstris Catus) In Animal Shelters
Keywords: domestic, cat, welfare, shelter, social, space
Issue Date: 5-Jan-2011
Citation: NG YI HUI EUNICE (2011-01-05). Social Dynamics and Space Utility of Domestic Cats Felis Silverstris Catus) In Animal Shelters. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Animal shelters traditionally have a constant flux of new cat additions and cats leaving the shelter via adoptions. As a result, shelter cats are unable to form stable hierarchies or relationships, and are often subjected to stressful social situations on top of the confining housing conditions. There are, however, emerging shelters which house cats in relatively more stable groups. This thesis gives an account of the social and behavioural characteristics of group-housed domestic cats that have lived together under such conditions for a long time. I hope to gain a more in-depth understanding of the lives of these animals in order to address the issue of welfare of shelter cats. Chapter one is an introduction of the thesis exploring general characteristics of the domestic cat and common welfare issues regarding captive animals. Chapter two investigates if a clear hierarchy exists within groups of cats at two local animal shelters. I also determine if the weight and sex of the cat affects its dominance status. In feral cats, it has been established that adult males tend to organize themselves into a hierarchy, with the heavier, older individuals being dominant over lighter, younger males. Reports of hierarchy establishment in confined cats are mixed in their verdict as to what form and degree the cats exert dominance over others. In the same chapter, I also explore the affiliation and agonistic patterns among the cats and report that weight and sex of the cat has no effect on this aspect of their social behavior. In chapter three, I give an account of the activity budget of cats in two local animal shelters and discussed the effect of housing density and enclosure complexity on their daily behaviors. It has been found that, generally, cats housed under high housing density and low complexity conditions spent less time sleeping, more time in alert rest and groomed themselves more. Chapter four explores what types of spots within the enclosures are most preferred by the cats and whether dominant cats differ from submissive cats in their usage of the enclosure space. I also describe four space sharing mechanisms evident in the study and investigated if housing density, enclosure complexity, sex, weight and dominance of the cats affected the type of sharing they employed. It has been found that same-sex pairs are less likely to rest close to each other than different-sex pairs. In chapter five, I examine the quality of rest in the cats, ¿measured¿ in terms of the amount of time they spent engaged in short, medium or long bouts of rest, and also in the number of times they moved about in the enclosure. These parameters allow us to infer the degree of restlessness and ability of the cats to relax and have restorative sleep. It has been found that low housing density and high enclosure complexity encouraged more quality rest in the cats. Chapter six concludes the thesis with a general discussion of recurring trends observed during the study.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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