Personality ratings of 196 cats were made by their owners using a 5-point Likert scale anchored by 1: not at all and 5: a great deal with 12 items: timid, friendly, curious, sociable, obedient, clever, protective, active, independent, aggressive, bad-tempered, and emotional. A principal components analysis with varimax rotation identified three intepretable components. Component I had high loadings by active, clever, curious, and sociable. Component II had high loadings by emotional, friendly, and protective, Component III by aggressive and bad-tempered, and Component IV by timid. Sex was not associated with any component, but age showed a weak negative correlation with Component I. Older animals were rated less social and curious than younger animals.
"Behavioral characteristics of an individual that are relatively consistent over time can be described as the individual's personality, and different dimensions, or factors, of that personality consist of correlating behavioral traits (Koolhaas et al. 1999; Carere and Eens 2005; Groothuis and Carere 2005). Assessment of personality is increasingly used for describing and quantifying behavioral variation in both wild and domestic animal species (Müller and Schrader 2005; Lee et al. 2007; Bell 2011; van Overveld and Matthysen 2013). Personality can be studied in terms of between-individual differences (population level) and within-individual variation (individual level; Uher 2011). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is increasingly common to quantify and describe behavioral variation in domestic and wild animals in terms of "personality". Correlating behavioral traits are referred to as personality "dimensions" or "factors" and different dimensions have been reported in different species. "Boldness" is a well-described personality dimension in several species, although some issues remain unclear. Previous models of boldness include both novelty and risk taking, but recent studies indicate that these types of behaviors may reflect separate personality dimensions. In this study, we developed a behavioral test battery for domestic rabbits, and recorded behaviors of 61 individuals in four different situations (novel object, novel arena, social, and predator interactions). We used domestic rabbits as a model because behavioral variation in rabbits has rarely been quantified in terms of personality dimensions, although rabbit behavior is described. We also wanted to investigate behavioral variation in a Swedish rabbit breed of conservation concern - the Gotland rabbit. Factor analysis of the behavioral test measures suggested three personality dimensions: "exploration", "boldness", and "anxiety". Novel object scores clustered in the exploration and boldness factors, whereas scores associated with predator interactions were explained by "anxiety", indicating that novel object and anti-predator behavior reflect different personality dimensions in rabbits.
Journal of Ethology 09/2014; 32(3):123-136. DOI:10.1007/s10164-014-0401-9 · 0.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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. Twenty-five cats were randomly assigned to one of the five conditions of visual stimulation for 3h a day for 3 days. Each cat's behaviour was recorded every 5min 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 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 significantly across their 3h of daily presentation, suggesting habituation. Certain components of the cats’ behaviour were influenced by visual stimulation. Animals in the animate movement condition spent 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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A wide variety of feline species have been shown to gain welfare benefits from the introduction of olfactory stimuli to the captive environment. The effect of this stimulation on the domestic cat, however, has been largely overlooked. This study thus explored the influence of olfactory stimulation on cats housed in a rescue shelter to determine whether it holds any value as a method of enrichment for this species. One hundred and fifty cats were randomly assigned to one of five conditions of olfactory stimulation (control [an odourless cloth]; biologically relevant odour [a cloth impregnated with the scent of rabbit]; biologically non-relevant odours, [a cloth impregnated with lavender, a renowned relaxant, or the scent of catnip, a well known stimulant]). Cats were exposed to the relevant olfactory stimuli for 3h a day for five consecutive days. Each cat's behaviour was recorded every 5min on days one, three and five of olfactory exposure, using instantaneous scan sampling. Overall, cats showed relatively little interest in the cloths, spending just over 6% of the total observation time interacting with these stimuli. However, animals exposed to the catnip-impregnated cloths exhibited significantly more interest in the stimulus than animals exposed to the other cloths, spending an average of 11.14% of the observation time interacting with the objects. Across all experimental conditions, interest in the cloths was significantly lower in the second and third hours of stimulus presentation compared to the first, suggesting habituation. Certain components of the cats’ behavioural repertoire were influenced by olfactory stimulation. Catnip and prey scent encouraged a significantly higher frequency of behaviours indicative of reduced activity (e.g. more time sleeping, less time standing and actively exploring the environment) in comparison to the control condition. Catnip also encouraged play-like behaviour characterised as the ‘catnip response’. Overall, the results suggest that certain odours, notably catnip, may hold potential as environmental enrichment for captive domestic cats.
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