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The Domestic Cat

The d omestic c at
Sandra McCune
Biological o verview
General b iology
The domestic cat Felis silvestris catus used in laboratories is
the same species that is commonly kept as a companion
animal and which exists in substantial numbers in a feral
state. Cats are intelligent, highly specialised mammals that
have evolved a range of morphological adaptations and
sensory abilities to suit their exclusively carnivorous life-
style (reviewed by Bradshaw 1992 ). A cat s perception of the
world is therefore different from ours. Hunting by sight at
night means they see in lower light intensities than we can
and are particularly sensitive to rapid movement. They are
not, however, able to see in fi ne detail or to discriminate
clearly between shades of colour (Bradshaw 1992 ). They also
hunt by sound and are very sensitive to the ultrasonic fre-
quencies that rodents use to communicate. Their sensitive
sense of smell helps them to locate prey although, in the fi nal
stages of a kill, touch is the dominant sense. Smell is also
used to select food while a second olfactory system (the
vomeronasal organ) is used in social communication.
Sebaceous glands are located throughout the body, espe-
cially on the head and the peri - anal area, and between the
digits. Scratching, which deposits scent from the inter -
digital glands, is a marking behaviour which leaves visual
and olfactory signals, and helps to maintain the claws in
good shape (Rochlitz 2005 ). The deposition of urine and
faeces, and rubbing of the body against objects, may also be
used in olfactory signalling. Allo - rubbing, where cats rub
their face and body against each other and intertwine their
tails, serves to exchange scent profi les between cats.
Standard biological data are listed in Table 31.1 .
Size r ange and l ifespan
Average domestic cats weigh between 2 and 5 kg. Males are
signifi cantly heavier than females. There are breed differ-
ences; American Ragdolls or Maine Coons can be three
times heavier than the average, whilst the small Singapura
weighs a mere 2 3 kg. Well cared for domestic cats can, on
average, expect to live for about 12 years and many cats live
into their twenties.
Social o rganisation of f ree - r anging c ats
Cats can adapt to a wide range of population densities. Feral
cat populations range from densities of 1 2000/km
2 (Izawa
et al. 1982 ; Izawa 1984 ; Kerby & Macdonald 1988 ). The
social system feral cats adopt depends upon the
distribution and availability of resources. The home ranges
of breeding males are usually much larger than those of
females. The sizes of their home ranges are determined by
both food supply and social considerations (including
availability of breeding females, whether females are soli-
tary or social and the degree of competition for females).
Male home ranges encompass the territories of several
breeding females. The home ranges of females are
determined by the needs for shelter and food both for them-
selves and for any dependent young. Where cats have
to support themselves solely by hunting, they are often
solitary as their prey is unlikely to be suffi ciently abundant
to sustain a social group. If food is more common but patch-
ily distributed, then the home ranges of cats may overlap
though they would rarely hunt in the same area at the same
Social groups exist where food is locally concentrated;
usually as a result of human activities (Kerby & Macdonald
1988 ). These groups are basically matrilineal, consisting of
females, usually related, and their offspring (including
immature males). The size of the groups is very variable and
seems to be determined largely by food availability, mortal-
ity amongst kittens from a range of infectious diseases and
extermination by humans. Females are tolerant of other
members in the group but defend their communal core area
(containing their den and major source of food) aggressively
against intruders. Their aggression intensifi es if there are
young kittens in the group. This exclusion of outsiders
makes it diffi cult for females to move between groups.
Males tend to disperse away from their mother s home
range when they are 2 or 3 years old. Initially they avoid
contact with all other cats but as they mature and get
stronger they will challenge other males for access to
females. Mature males are only loosely associated with any
group but in areas where most females are group - living, a
particular male may concentrate his mating efforts within a
single group. Further information on cat behaviour can be
found in Thorne (1992) ; Beaver (2003) and in the American
The UFAW Handbook on The Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals: Eighth Edition Edited by Robert Hubrecht and James Kirkwood
© 2010 the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. ISBN: 978-1-405-17523-4
454 The domestic cat
usually reached by the third litter. Females are optimally
fertile between the ages of 1 and 8; subsequently their
oestrous cycles may become irregular and litters are fewer
and smaller. Although sperm quality declines with age,
males can remain fertile into their twenties.
Breeds, s trains and g enetics
A recent genetic assessment of 979 domestic cats and their
wild progenitors Felis silvestris silvestris (European wildcat),
F. s. lybica (Near Eastern/north African wildcat), F. s. ornata
(central Asian wildcat), F. s. cafra (southern African wildcat)
and F. s. bieti (Chinese desert cat) indicates that each wild
group represents a distinctive subspecies of Felis silvestris
(Driscoll et al. 2007 ). As F. s. lybica and domestic cats fall into
the same genetic clade (a group of species with the same
ancestor), it is likely that the lybica subspecies gave rise to
the genetic lineage that eventually produced all domesti-
cated cats. Cats were domesticated in the Fertile Crescent of
the Near East and north Africa, probably coincident with the
development of agricultural villages where cats fed on the
rodents that infested the grain stores of the fi rst farmers. The
rst evidence of cat remains buried together with human
remains was found in Cyprus, and determined to be 9500
years old (Vigne et al. 2004 ). The earliest evidence for domes-
tication comes from Egypt in the third millennium
(Linseele et al. 2007 )
Cats have not been subject to intensive selective breeding
programmes with most breeds originating in single gene
mutations or a few combinations. The concept of cat breeds
dates from the nineteenth century. Breeds are classifi ed into
British (European or American) and Foreign on the basis of
head shape, body conformation and coat quality. British
types are stocky with a heavier coat. Foreign types are
slender and smooth coated. Breeds are also classifi ed by hair
length; Short - hairs and Long - hairs. The difference is due to
a single gene, the allele for long coat being recessive. A more
recent hair mutation has resulted in three new breeds; the
Cornish Rex, the Devon Rex and the American Wire - hair.
Colour varieties are caused by less than a dozen mutations.
Most seem to affect only pigmentation but that producing
blue - eyed white cats is linked with timidity, deafness, ele-
vated mortality and poor mothering ability. Breeders are
now producing breeds in several colours; blurring the dis-
tinction between breeds and varieties (a full account of
breeds and varieties is provided by Vella et al. 1999 ).
Sources of s upply
It is good practice, and a legal requirement in some countries
(eg, in the European Union), for cats to be bred and obtained
from approved establishments. Many laboratories use spe-
cifi c pathogen free (SPF) cats which will need to come from
recognised SPF sources. These cats should be free from viral
and chlamydial upper respiratory disease, FeLV (feline leu-
kaemia virus), FIV (feline immunodefi ciency virus), corona-
virus and both ectoparasites and endoparasites. Cats should
be quarantined for at least 3 weeks before joining the colony.
Cats from random sources would need a 6 week quarantine
Table 31.1 Standard biological data for the cat (after Hurni &
Rossbach 1987 ).
Parameter Value
Age of replacement of deciduous
dentition (months)
3.5 6
Life expectancy (years) 9 14 (over 20 has been
Body weight:
Female (non - breeding) (kg) 3 4
Male (kg) 3 7
Birth (g) 110 ± 20
Respiration rate (/min) 16 40
Volume (ml) 12 15 (0.3 0.4l/min)
Arterial blood pressure (mmHg) 120/75
pH 7.35
Blood volume:
Total (ml/kg body weight) 75
Maximum single sample (ml/kg
body weight)
Pulse rate (/min)
150 200 (range 120 220)
Body temperature ( ° C) 38 39.5
Dental formulae:
Deciduous 2 (I
3 C
1 Pm
2 ) = 26
Permanent 2 (I
3 C
1 Pm
2 M
1 ) = 30
Oestrous cycle (days) 14 (anovular)
Gestation (days) 65.5 ± 1.7
Litter size 3 6 (range 1 10)
Lactation (weeks) 7
Weaning (weeks) 4 7
Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Behaviour
1 .
Under optimum conditions, females become sexually
mature at around 9 months (range 4 18 months). Males
(toms) are sexually mature by 8 months though some may
be fertile earlier. Cats are normally seasonal breeders in
temperate climates. Toms are most sexually active in spring
though they can sire kittens at any time of the year. Females
will breed all year round if they are kept indoors with no
exposure to sunlight and with a 12:12 hour light dark
regime. Most oestrous cycles last between 18 and 24 days.
Oestrus lasts about 4 days if mating occurs but otherwise
between 5 and 10 days. Cats are induced ovulators (although
see Lawler et al. 1991 ), with foreplay and coitus stimulating
ovulation. Sterile copulation may result in pseudopreg-
nancy which lasts about 36 days. Successful pregnancies last
about 63 days (range 58 72 days). Females are capable of
coming into oestrus 3 4 weeks after a litter is weaned.
The average litter size is 4 (typical range 3 10), with 104
males born to every 100 females. Maximum litter size is
The domestic cat 455
than the quantity may often result in a better outcome for
the cat.
The cat, having originated from a largely solitary - living
species, has not developed the complex visual signalling
that is typical of species that have had a long evolutionary
history of social living, such as the domestic dog. As a result,
lacking or having limited signals for avoiding confl ict such
as appeasement (Casey 2007b ), and post - confl ict mecha-
nisms such as reconciliation (van den Bos 1998 ), they do not
form distinct dominance hierarchies. Usually, cats will
avoid physical confrontation by using behaviours to main-
tain distance, such as olfactory marking, posturing and
vocalisation. Alternatively, they may try to evade threats
from other cats by hiding or fl eeing to elevated locations. If
housing conditions in the laboratory do not provide for
these responses, cats may end up in aggressive encounters
with each other.
The maintenance of groups is infl uenced by factors that
include familiarity, stability, socialisation to other cats and
availability of resources. Sibling pairs of cats have more
amicable relationships than unrelated cats living together
(Bradshaw & Hall 1999 ), and close social bonds may also
develop between unrelated kittens that are raised together.
Attention to the socialisation of cats with other cats at a
young age will make them more tolerant of others in adult-
hood. Optimal socialisation to humans occurs if kittens are
handled between the second and seventh week of life (Karsh
& Turner 1988 ), and it is generally accepted that the period
of socialisation of kittens to other cats also occurs during this
time (Rochlitz 2005 ).
Housing cats at high densities increases the likelihood of
their being stressed. While housing in groups provides
opportunities for complex social interactions and so increases
mental and physical stimulation (Figure 31.1 ), group com-
position should be kept fairly constant to avoid disrupting
established group dynamics. Social cohesion is maintained
through behaviours such as allo - rubbing, which involves
tactile communication and the mixing and exchange of
scent, such that all individuals in the group have a shared
scent profi le. The frequent addition of new cats into a group
disrupts relationships and introduces new olfactory profi les
that interfere with social cohesion.
When cats are housed in groups, attention should be paid
to the availability of resources (food, toileting sites, resting
and hiding areas). Resources should be distributed in a
number of places to prevent certain animals from monopo-
lising one area, and to enable them to avoid confl ict with
others when accessing these resources. Cats which fail to
adapt to a particular social group, for example those which
avoid contact with all other group members, should be
rehoused, either with a smaller group or singly.
Individual h ousing
Sometimes cats need to be housed individually. For instance;
post - /pre - parturition females; mature males; sick, injured or
quarantined individuals; or as a necessary part of a specifi c
research programme. The most specialised or extreme form
of single housing is probably the metabolism cage which is
used, for example, to facilitate the reliable collection and
assessment of faeces. These cages are usually made of metal
as their disease status would be unknown. They might also
have behavioural and handling problems.
Management and b reeding
General h usbandry
Husbandry systems should use best health care practices,
which emphasise good welfare and meet the animals
behavioural needs. Systems should provide safe, comforta-
ble, animal - friendly conditions, environmental choice for
the animal, sensory stimulation, physical and mental exer-
cise and should minimise disease. Detailed recommenda-
tions for cat housing exist (eg, Home Offi ce 1989 ; European
Commission 2007 ) and provide guidelines on the design,
construction and security of animal facilities; and on the
environmental conditions within the facility, encompassing
guidelines for temperature, relative humidity, ventilation
and lighting). There are examples of innovative design
incorporating elements intended to meet cats behavioural
needs (Loveridge 1994 ; Loveridge et al. 1995 ).
Cats can be kept outdoors or indoors. Considerations of
environmental control, costs and disease transmission mean
most colonies are kept in closed indoor accommodation.
Housing needs to be easy to clean and maintain, and com-
patible with the requirements of laboratory studies. Using
several individual buildings reduces the potential for disease
to spread throughout a colony (Hawthorne et al. 1995 ).
Group h ousing
Groupings should take account of density recommenda-
tions. In the UK for group - housed cats, recommended
minimum fl oor area per cat is 3300 cm
2 for cats weighing up
to 3 kg and 5000 cm 2 for cats weighing over 3 kg (Home
Offi ce 1989 ). This rises to 5000 cm
2 and 7500 cm 2 respectively
when cats are housed singly. The revised guidelines of
the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate
Animals used for Experimental and Other Scientifi c Pur-
poses (ETS 123), Appendix A (Council of Europe 2006 ), and
the revised Annex II to the European Directive 86/609
(European Commission 2007 ) require a minimum fl oor area
of 1.5 m 2 and shelving of 0.5 m
2 , with another 0.75 m
2 of fl oor
space and 0.25 m
2 of shelf space for every additional cat; and
that the cage should be 2 m high.
A critical minimum cage size has not been established for
cats. Some cats will show behaviour problems when con-
ned in cages with the dimensions given above. Indeed,
some free - ranging cats will show behaviour problems.
However, cats with restricted access to outdoors are more
commonly presented with behaviour problems than free -
ranging cats so it appears that space is limiting to some
individuals even in relatively enriched home settings. The
response of the individual to confi nement varies widely and
is based on many factors. The most important of these is
likely to be quality of the confi ned space and the cat s previ-
ous experience. Investing in the quality of the space rather
456 The domestic cat
they provide the best vantage points and protect the cat
from being approached from behind. Cats spend a large
portion of their day either resting or sleeping, so it is impor-
tant that there are plenty of rest areas with comfortable
Hiding is a coping behaviour that cats often show in
response to stimuli or changes in their environment (Rochlitz
2005 ). It is commonly seen when cats want to avoid interac-
tions with other cats or people, and in response to other
potentially stressful situations. A recent study investigated
the effect of hiding enrichment on stress and behaviour of
kennelled cats (Kry & Casey 2007 ). The hiding enrichment
(often stainless steel) with mesh fl oors. They can be stressful
to the cats confi ned in them in many ways. The accommoda-
tion may be unfamiliar to the animal if it is normally group -
housed. The cages are usually small and so lack space for
normal movement. They provide only a barren environ-
ment; devoid of comfort and facilities providing physical
and mental stimulation. The enforced social isolation may
also cause stress to cats that are used to social contact with
others. These cages should be made as appealing as possible
with the addition of resting boards with covers, toys and
visual observation of other cats and should be used for as
short a time as possible.
In response to the need to improve upon such cages,
Loveridge and co - workers (1995) developed a system of
two - roomed lodges which provide individually housed cats
with an enriched environment, freedom of choice, mental
and physical stimulation and conditions as similar as pos-
sible to those in the main colony (Figure 31.2 ). Extensive use
of glass throughout the building allows the individually
housed animals to be visually stimulated by those on either
side, by human and cat activity within the colony, and by
activity in the grounds outside the colony building.
Individually housed cats should have access to a larger exer-
cise area space and be given some personal attention every
day (Figure 31.3 ). Even more recently, an organisation has
developed a mechanical litter tray system that allows urine
and faeces to be collected from specifi c cats housed in their
normal group housing. Users should explore the possibili-
ties of these techniques before resorting to metabolism
Environmental p rovisions
An important objective of good housing is to improve
welfare by giving the animal a degree of control over its
environment and the opportunity to make choices (Broom
& Johnson 1993 ). Good laboratory housing for cats should
include a range of shelving at different heights, and a choice
of resting and hiding places. Timid cats and those less well
integrated into the social group will occupy the higher
shelves (Rochlitz et al. 1995 ), particularly those in corners as
Figure 31.1 Enriched housing provides opportunities for
play, social contact and privacy.
Figure 31.2 Lodges for singly housed cats (in the background) can
be built around central areas of activity to provide visual
The domestic cat 457
Identifi cation and s exing
In small colonies cats can be identifi ed by their markings
and other characteristics. Microchip implants provide a
secure, safe and permanent method of identifying individu-
als. Insertion of the microchips is less painful than tattooing.
Collars can be used but their fi t needs to be checked regu-
larly and they are unsuitable for very young kittens. Cats
can be sexed at birth from the ano - genital distance (about
6 mm in females and 13 mm in males).
Physical e nvironment and h ygiene
The physical environment should be monitored, and
ambient temperature and humidity adjusted for comfort
(15 – 24 ° C and 55% ± 10% relative humidity are recom-
mended by the UK Home Offi ce (1989) ). Rather than having
a homogeneous environment, creating a range of micro -
environments is preferable as this provides a cat with some
choice, for example: heated beds; sun - warmed ledges; and
shaded lying areas. Even in single metabolism cages, a
single shelf at least provides some choice of location for the
individual. Good ventilation is important to dilute and
remove air - borne pathogens and to disperse heat produced
by animals and equipment. Cats need protection from
extremes of heat and housing will need extractor fans, blinds
or solar - absorbing glass and refl ective fi lm.
The combination of good design and an effective cleaning
regimen will minimise disease transmission. All rooms and
litter trays, furniture and other surfaces within, need daily
cleaning with detergent and disinfectant. Cleaning materials
need to be chosen carefully as cats are particularly sensitive
to phenolic compounds. Aerosolisation of phenolics can
result in corneal lesions if the cats remain in the room during
cleaning. Chlorhexidine appears to be a safe and effective
disinfectant for cat rooms (suggestions in Hawthorne et al.
1995 ). Bedding should be disposable or washable. Only
consisted of a cardboard box (Hide, Perch and Go ® box,
British Columbia SPCA), whilst control animals were pro-
vided with an open bed. A signifi cant reduction in stress
was noted in the enriched group: these cats were more likely
to approach humans and displayed relaxed behaviours
much more frequently.
Visual barriers can be useful, to enable cats to get out of
sight of others and also to break up the three - dimensional
space into sections or compartments, making it more
complex and giving the cat more choice about where it
wants to be (Rochlitz 2005 ). Housing should incorporate
features to provide opportunities for stimulation, and for
environmental and social choice. For example: provision of
internal windows to enable cats to watch other cats and
human activity; internal arrangement of pens incorporating
different levels to increase usable space and give opportuni-
ties for climbing, for example by imaginative use of shelv-
ing, climbing poles and ropes; semi - hidden spaces to explore
or to withdraw from the group, for example, plastic hollow
cubes, large children s toys etc which can be moved from
group to group; experience of the natural environment
either by direct access (which may not be possible in a
minimal disease system) or through glass.
Olfactory enrichment is relatively underused in animal
housing, perhaps because of the relatively poor sense of
smell of humans compared with many other species.
Surfaces for the deposition of olfactory and visual signals
and for claw abrasion, such as scratch posts, rush matting,
pieces of carpet and wood, should be provided.
Presentation of f ood and w ater
Fresh water should always be available and, ideally, replen-
ished constantly from a chlorinated mains supply. Some cats
prefer to drink from a water fountain. Food should be kept
fresh. Removing food for a period each day seems to renew
the cats interest.
Social room
Lodge Kitchen
Central Court
Figure 31.3 Section through a facility providing single
and group housing for cats (from Loveridge et al. 1995 ).
Reproduced with kind permission of Waltham Centre for
Pet Nutrition.
458 The domestic cat
Figure 31.4 Regular health checks and grooming are
essential to ensure the well - being of individuals.
small quantities of food should be stored within the build-
ings to avoid attracting vermin and this should be kept in
vermin - proof containers. Every care should be taken to
avoid any wild, stray or pet animals entering the animal
facility. Particular care needs to be taken with drains and
other services that penetrate the fabric of the building and
so allow a potential route into the animal rooms.
Health m onitoring, q uarantine and
b arrier s ystems
Cats should be handled frequently and checked daily; han-
dling and restraint techniques were reviewed by Wills, J.
(1993) . Every week they should have a specifi c health check
(ears, eyes, nose, genitalia and general body condition), be
groomed and weighed (Figure 31.4 ). Twice a year they should
have a dental examination and a haematology and biochem-
istry screen. Colonies should be screened for viruses, bacteria
and parasites. Viral screening should occur on an epidemio-
logical basis. Assuming a low incidence of disease a large
number of cats may need to be screened to fi nd a problem.
Any unexpected death should be thoroughly investigated.
The probability of cats contracting an infectious disease
depends on a number of factors, including: age; genetic pre-
disposition; nutritional status; levels of stress; concurrent
illness; level of infectious disease challenge and virulence of
the infectious organism.
Separate facilities should be provided for the isolation of
suspected infected cats and for those in quarantine. Isolation
facilities should be completely self - contained and, ideally,
in a separate building from the main colony. Disease trans-
mission can be limited further by housing all cats according
to their susceptibility. Preferably each susceptibility group
should be handled by different personnel, otherwise the
sequence in which they are handled should be on a suscep-
tibility basis from most to least susceptible, eg: early - weaned
kittens; queens with kittens; older cats; quarantine cats; and
nally sick cats. Further details are given by Hawthorne
et al. (1995) .
Cats are not good travellers. Travel causes stress in many
individuals and therefore should be kept to a minimum
(McCune 1994 ). Journeys of over 10 h duration appear to be
especially stressful (Bradshaw & Holloran 2005 ). Preferably
cats should be accompanied to ensure their safety and
welfare. If cats are to travel unaccompanied, across borders,
or by air, sea or rail then special regulations will probably
apply. Each country and carrier will have its own regula-
tions regarding animal transport. Cats appreciate being able
to look out of their carrier. SPF cats will need to be protected
from infection during transit. Cats travelling by air will
require containers approved by the International Air Transport
Association ( IATA ) who revise their regulations annually (see
also Chapter 13 and Laboratory Animal Science Association
(LASA) 2005 ).
For general advice see Wills, M.B. (1993) .
Condition of a dults
Cats are sexually mature at 8 9 months of age. Cats that
begin to cycle and are not bred are likely to develop uterine
pathology that decreases reproductive performance.
Therefore, if the colony has reproduction as a goal, queens
should be placed into a harem in their fi rst year. At the
Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition queens are retired at 8
years and toms are retired at 10 years, but other breeders
may continue to use their breeding animals for longer than
this if they remain in good health.
The domestic cat 459
Conception and p regnancy
Ovulation is triggered by mating, possibly from the stimula-
tion of the tom withdrawing his barbed penis. After copula-
tion both cats wash their urinogenital area, the female
continues to roll for about 30 minutes before they mate
again. Multiple copulations are normally required to trigger
ovulation. Females may mate many times and with different
males. Pregnancy can be reliably diagnosed by palpation at
21 28 days, by ultrasound after 21 days and by radiography
after 40 45 days. Pregnancy can be assessed by monitoring
weight gain, and weight gain also gives some indication of
the size of the litter (Loveridge 1986 ).
Cats do not usually build nests but make use of whatever
protective shelter is available; they will usually make use of
boxes, newspaper, cardboard or other forms of bedding if
provided. They like to choose where to give birth, and may
visit suitable sites several times before coming to a decision.
Some cats prefer dark, quiet places; a box provided in the
breeding area will generally be used. Occasionally cats will
transfer their kittens to a new nest site.
Group - housed pregnant cats are moved to separate accom-
modation about 10 days before parturition to protect the
newborn kittens from attack. Feral queens living in social
groups do use communal dens and collaborate to nurse each
other s offspring; in large groups it tends to be mothers and
daughters co - operating but in small groups all adult females
may nurse each other ’ s offspring, (Bradshaw 1992 ). Confi ned
females have been known to kill newborn kittens. Infanticide
by tomcats has also been recorded.
Before giving birth the queen cleans herself thoroughly,
particularly her ventrum around the nipples, and her ano-
genital area. Parturition is usually uneventful. The kittens
are born at 2 30 - minute intervals. After the birth the queen
removes the amniotic sac from around the kitten, severs the
umbilical cord, eats the placenta and licks the kitten clean
which stimulates its breathing. After delivery of the last
kitten, the queen then encircles her litter and encourages
them to suckle by nuzzling and licking them. Kittens fi nd
the nipple and suckle spontaneously using innate refl exes.
Suckling must be established promptly as neonatal kittens
cannot withstand even short periods without food and need
to acquire maternal antibodies from the milk. The mother
will remain in contact with the kittens for at least the fi rst
24 h. For the fi rst month the queen spends about 70% of her
time in the nest caring for her kittens; initiating feeding
bouts, grooming, and stimulating their perineal area to
encourage urination and defecation (this must be done until
they are about 7 weeks old).
Development of the y oung
Sensory d evelopment
Sensory systems are not fully operational in the newborn
kitten. They are born blind, virtually deaf and completely
Identifying the f ertile s tate
Anoestrous females will respond aggressively to any sexual
approach by a male. Females in pro - oestrus show subtle
changes in their behaviour; they tend to be rather restless
and rub up against objects. They allow males to approach
but prolonged contact is not tolerated. Over the next 24 h the
females rub their head and fl ank against objects with increas-
ing intensity, they roll on the fl oor, stretch, purr and rhyth-
mically open and close their paws, fl exing their claws. At
this stage they will tolerate grooming by the male but not
mounting. Full sexual receptivity is indicated by females
adopting the lordosis position; the female crouches with her
head close to the ground, her hindlegs treading and partly
extended, and her tail laterally displaced to expose the peri-
neum (UK Cat Behaviour Working Group 1995 ).
Mating s ystems
In the harem or group mating system, ideally one male cat
is kept in a group of females. The dominant male will
usually mate with more than 80% of the females. A potential
diffi culty with this system is that the exact date of mating is
not known and pregnancy is determined by the female
gaining weight (Figure 31.5 ). The female should be moved
to kittening accommodation 10 14 days before birth is due
to allow her to habituate to the new surroundings.
A second, but perhaps less welfare friendly, system is to
house females together in groups and to accommodate the
males in individual housing. When signs of oestrus are
observed, the female is taken to the chosen male and mated
a number of times. Males need to be replaced regularly to
avoid inbreeding. The advantage of this system is that par-
entage and date of mating are known. The disadvantage for
the singly housed males is they have relatively little social
contact with other cats.
Weeks after mating
1 kitten
2 kittens
3 kittens
4 kittens
5 kittens
Weight of queens (g)
Figure 31.5 Weight changes during gestation and lactation in
queens with different litter sizes (group size = 15) (from Loveridge
& Rivers 1989 ). Reproduced with kind permission of Waltham
Centre for Pet Nutrition.
460 The domestic cat
In breeding colonies, weaned kittens are usually housed
separately from their mothers. Housing kittens aged 8 18
weeks together widens their social experience and increases
their sociability to other cats. Young toms can be allowed
supervised socialisation with groups of kittens. This pro-
vides stimulation and activity for the tom and teaches kittens
how to interact with adults. Older kittens are usually
grouped with others of a similar age.
Selection of b reeding s tock
Cats used for breeding should be free from detectable abnor-
malities, have a good temperament, and be fastidiously
clean. Breeding females should be good mothers and have
produced good - sized litters with an even sex ratio and
good - sized offspring. Immunodefi ciencies may occur in
inbred lines.
Special s ystems b arrier c olonies
A successful barrier colony can be established using simple
and straightforward procedures (Loveridge 1984 ). The
colony is set up using SPF cats and accommodated away
from existing non - SPF catteries. Access is limited, and per-
sonnel shower and dress in a separate set of clean clothing
before entering and only handle the barrier colony cats.
Goods and equipment are disinfected by immersion in a
tank containing aldehyde - based disinfectant, delicate items
are wiped with disinfectant.
Cats are solitary hunters and tend to take prey that is con-
siderably smaller than themselves. Although their natural
feeding behaviour is to eat small meals through the 24 h day,
cats are opportunistic feeders and will adjust their patterns
of activity to suit the frequency with which food becomes
available. Adult cats at maintenance can adapt to being fed
once or twice a day but growing kittens and lactating queens
require more frequent feeds. Confi ned cats are generally
given food ad libitum and eat small quantities at frequent
intervals. Cats are highly selective feeders and require their
food to be highly palatable and fresh. Odour and texture
play an important part in diet selection by cats. Careful
observation is required to establish individual preferences
and the correct level of feeding. Most cats seem to be able
to monitor, and therefore adjust, their own calorie intake to
match their energy requirements quite accurately. Good
nutrition during pregnancy and lactation will give kittens
the best start in life.
Natural and p repared d iets
Cats are obligate carnivores: they must eat meat products.
Free - living cats eat most parts of their prey (small verte-
brates and insects) including skin, bones and viscera. Most
confi ned cats are fed solely on commercially prepared
canned or complete dry cat foods. These diets have been
designed to supply all the key nutrients and energy needed
dependent. They have a fully developed sense of touch,
and can detect and respond to temperature gradients.
Olfaction is fully developed by 3 weeks and hearing by 4
weeks. Kittens eyes open at about 6 days. They can follow
visual cues by 3 4 weeks. Thereafter their visual acuity
improves and is fully developed by about 16 weeks. Internal
control of body temperature is not fully developed until 7
Physical d evelopment
Motor skills develop in parallel with sensory abilities.
Newborn kittens can only move by wriggling against a sub-
strate but by the third week they can stand, though their
balance is poor, and by 5 weeks they are attempting complex
movements. Motor control is fully developed by 11 weeks.
Predatory behaviour is observed in cats with no experience
of prey but they require experience to become effi cient
hunters. Feral kittens learn by interacting with prey brought
to the nest by their mothers. Pet kittens learn by interacting
with toys, litter mates and their mothers.
Kittens milk teeth begin to appear about 14 days after
birth. Initially they are not very interested in solid food but
by week 5 are consuming substantial quantities. Kittens can
be weaned at 8 weeks. Sensory and physical development
are reviewed in Robinson (1992a) .
Behavioural d evelopment
In the fi rst 2 weeks, kittens mainly sleep and eat. The sensi-
tive period for socialisation to people lies between the end
of the second and seventh weeks. This is the period when
contact with people has the greatest infl uence on a kitten s
development of friendliness to people. Kittens should be
given plenty of opportunity to socialise with other cats and
humans, to play and experience colony routines. Older
kittens should continue to be given a wide range of experi-
ences as this will help them to accept novel events as adults.
Cats that are handled from birth show more rapid physical
development and, as adults, are more responsive to humans
and to novel events (McCune 1992 ). Their friendliness to
people is affected by the quality and quantity of handling
they receive (reviewed in McCune et al. 1995 ) but is also
dependent on their parent s temperament (McCune 1995a ).
Kittens from confi dent fathers are more confi dent
themselves and cope better when faced with unfamiliar situ-
ations such as being handled by strangers or being caged
(McCune 1992 ). Consequently, it is important to consider
temperament when selecting individuals for a breeding
Weaning and r earing
The queen begins weaning by spending more time away
from her kittens and by adopting postures which make her
nipples inaccessible. Weaning can be encouraged by provid-
ing shelving to which queens can retreat and by removing
queens for increasingly longer periods. The kittens are
encouraged to eat solid food from approximately 3 weeks
of age, which helps to reduce their dependence on mothers
milk. Weaning is usually complete at 8 weeks of age.
The domestic cat 461
Table 31.2 Energy requirements of growing cats (from the NRC Guidelines 2006 ).
Lifestage Energy measurement Notes
Adult maintenance
Normal 100 kcal/kg BW
0.67 /day
Overweight/low activity 130 kcal/kg BW
0.4 /day
Pregnancy ME 140 BW
0.67 kcal/day
< 3 kittens ME kcal = maintenance + 18 × BW x L L = stage of lactation from week 1 to week 7
Week 1 = 0.9
Week 2 = 0.9
Week 3 = 1.2
Week 4 = 1.2
Week 5 = 1.1
Week 6 = 1.0
Week 7 = 0.8
3 4 kittens ME kcal = maintenance + 60 × BW ×
L As above
> 4 kittens MEkcal = maintenance + 70 × BW × L As above
100 × BW
0.67 × 6.7 × (e
( 0.189p) 0.66) where
p = BWa/BWm
BWa = actual body weight (kg)
BWm = expected mature bodyweight
E = base of natural log 2.718
+ The age at which a cat s energy requirement settles to the adult level is around 40 weeks, although actual bodily development may continue
to 12 months especially for a large male cat.
and have been tested for digestibility and palatability. Many
come in a range of types and fl avours since cats are known
to appreciate variety in their diet (Bradshaw 1992 ). Canned
food is a heat - sterilised moist food and, as such, is a safe
product with a very long storage life and so requires no
special storage conditions. Good - quality complete dry food
made specifi cally for cats can also be used as the sole source
of nutrition. Dry food can be kept for many months provid-
ing it is stored in dry cool conditions. Offering some dry
food maintains oral hygiene in cats. Its natural abrasive
action helps to prevent build - up of plaque and reduces gum
disease. Another advantage is that it can be left out longer
than canned food, which allows the cats to adopt a more
natural feeding pattern of many small meals throughout
both the day and night. However, in general, most cats fi nd
dry foods less palatable than moist foods like meat or canned
Diets can be made directly from raw ingredients. The
National Research Council (NRC) (2006) gives dietary
guidelines for cats, both minimum requirements and
maximum tolerable levels, and lists the composition of a
wide range of ingredients from which diets can be formu-
lated to meet the cat s nutritional requirements. Further
information can be found in Burger (1993) and Markwell
(1994) .
The requirement for fresh clean water is at least as important
as that for other nutrients. The water content of the diet
affects the amount of water cats drink.
Dietary r equirements
Dietary requirements are listed in Tables 31.2 and 31.3 .
These will change with life stage as does the way in which
the food should be presented.
The NRC (2006) estimate energy requirements in normal
adult cats using an exponential equation of 100 BW
0.67 kcal
per day (BW = bodyweight in kg), which is based on data
from lean cats using indirect calorimetry (Nguyen et al.
2001 ). For overweight cats the suggested equation is
130 BW 0.4 kcal per day (Table 31.2 ).
Pregnant and l actating q ueens
Pregnant and lactating queens should be fed ad libitum on a
balanced diet (Figure 31.6 ). Specially formulated diets are
available and supplements should be avoided as they can
result in nutritional imbalances (reviewed by Legrand -
Defretin & Munday 1993 ). The NRC (2006) recommends the
equation for energy requirements for gestation to be
ME = 140 BW 0.67 kcal/day (Table 31.2 ).
Cats increase their food intake from the fi rst day of preg-
nancy and, on average, gain about 39% of their pre - mating
weight during pregnancy (reviewed in Loveridge & Rivers
1989 ). Weight gain varies with the size of the litter (accord-
ing to the equation: weight gain (g) = 888.9 + 106.5 N, where
N is the number of kittens in the litter) (Loveridge & Rivers
1989 ). Some of the weight queens accumulate is lost at par-
turition, the rest acts as an energy reserve for lactation
(Loveridge 1986 ). In the fi rst 4 weeks of lactation queens
expend more energy than they can take in. They continue to
462 The domestic cat
Table 31.3 Nutrient requirements of cats (From the NRC
Guidelines 2006 ). Nutrient requirements/1000 kcal.
Nutrient Units Cat requirement
Protein g 50.00
Arginine g 1.93
Histidine g 0.65
Isoleucine g 1.08
Leucine g 2.55
Lysine g 0.85
Methionine and cystine g 0.85
Phenylaline and tyrosine g 3.83
Threonine g 1.30
Tryptophan g 0.33
Valine g 1.28
Taurine g 0.10
Fat g 22.50
Linoleic acid 1.40
Arachidonic acid 0.015
Calcium g 0.72
Phosphorus g 0.64
Potassium g 1.30
Sodium mg 170.00
Chloride mg 240.00
Magnesium mg 100.00
Iron mg 20.00
Zinc mg 18.50
Copper mg 1.20
Manganese mg 1.20
Iodine μ g 350.00
Selenium μ g 75.00
Vitamin A (retinol) μ g 250.00
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) μ g 1.75
Vitamin E ( α - tocopherol) mg 10.00
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) mg 0.25
Thiamin mg 1.40
Ribofl avin mg 1.00
Pantothenic acid mg 1.44
Niacin mg
Pyridoxine mg 0.625
Folic acid μ g 188.00
Vitamin B
12 μ g 5.60
Choline mg 637.00
Biotin μ g 18.75
Week of lactation
Mean ME intake
(KJ/kg BW)
Figure 31.6 Energy intakes of queens and kittens during
lactation (mean of three kittens/litter).
need extra energy whilst they suckle and rebuild body
reserves. The amount of energy required depends on the
number and age of the kittens. The NRC (2006) recommen-
dation for ME in lactating cats is based on the maintenance
requirement increased by a factor determined by the number
of kittens in the litter and the stage of lactation (Table 31.2 ).
Growing k ittens
Nutrition is one of the major determinants of kittens growth
rate, along with freedom from disease, good husbandry,
maternal weight and the kitten s sex (Loveridge 1987 ).
During a kitten ’ s rst few weeks it is entirely dependent on
its mother s milk to achieve the desired growth rate of nearly
100 g a week. If the queen s milk is insuffi cient, or kittens are
being hand reared, specially manufactured milk replacers
should be given at frequent intervals. Milk replacers mimic
the composition of queen s milk, are highly digestible and
may include a probiotic to help establish a healthy gut fl ora.
NRC (2006) recommends a factorial equation to estimate the
energy requirements for kittens (Table 31.2 ).
Although deciduous teeth appear about 14 days after birth,
very young kittens are not very interested in solid food. From
about 3 4 weeks, they become increasingly interested in the
solid food that their mother is eating. By week 6, kittens are
eating for 50 minutes a day (Robinson 1992a ) and should be
given fi nely chopped or moistened food. Commercial food
specifi cally formulated for kittens is available; it has a higher
concentration of energy and some nutrients than food formu-
lated for adult cats. The amount of food kittens can ingest at
one meal is limited and, ideally, they should be fed ad libitum.
Weaned kittens do not need milk and become less able to
digest lactose as their gut matures. At 6 months of age most
kittens have gained 75% of their fi nal adult weight and can be
given food formulated for adult cats.
Older c ats
Most colony cats are retired when they are around 8 years
old. If studies require geriatric cats some changes in feeding
regimens may be required. Geriatric cats require small but
regular feeds of a high - energy, highly palatable and digest-
ible diet (feeding frequently rather than ad libitum allows
food intake to be monitored). Recent research has shown that
their ability to digest fat, protein and energy declines with
The domestic cat 463
the routine in the future (eg, use of clippers and being gently
restrained on an examination table).
Physiological m onitoring
To maximise welfare and data reliability, monitoring
methods should be as non - invasive as possible. Procedures
are easier with two experienced handlers; one restrains the
cat while the other performs the procedure. The more
relaxed the handlers and the cat are, the easier and less
distressing the procedure.
Recording b ody t emperatures
Most cats can simply be held while their rectal temperature
is taken. Cats that do object will need to be restrained.
Collection of s pecimens
Samples of 1 2 ml are most easily obtained from the front
leg: from the antebrachial cephalic vein. For smaller samples,
blood can be collected directly by letting it drop out through
the needle into the collection vessel rather than being drawn
out by syringe. Larger samples are easier to obtain from the
jugular veins. See Joint Working Group on Refi nement
(JWGR) (1993) for general guidance, and limits to blood
volume that can be acceptably withdrawn.
Many of the methods used to collect urine (cystocentesis,
catherisation, manual transabdominal expression) are inva-
sive and may be traumatic, particularly when testing is
repeated or long - term. They also interfere with the cat s
normal urination pattern (as can keeping cats on mesh fl oors
through which urine drains). Most cats can be trained to
urinate in a clean tray: cats accustomed to urinating and
defecating in a litter tray can be trained to use decreasing
amounts of litter until the tray is empty. The outlet of the tray
can be connected to a collection vessel outside the pen, ena-
bling urine to be collected separately from faeces. Markwell
and Smith (1993) describe a non - invasive collection system
whereby urine can be continuously monitored (Figure 31.7 ).
Milk can be manually expressed with some diffi culty from
lactating queens by gentle massaging of the teats after the
administration of 5 IU of oxytocin (im) to stimulate milk
ow (Keen et al. 1982 ).
Administration of m edicines
General advice on the administration of substances can be
found in JWGR (2001) . Most cats will detect drugs mixed in
their food and will refuse to eat.
Dosing and i njection p rocedures
Oral dosing is best carried out with two handlers, one
restrains the cat while the other gives the medicine. To give
age (Taylor et al. 1995 ), whilst energy requirements remain
constant. It may be necessary to offer fi nely chopped or mois-
tened food if they have poor dentition. It is particularly
important that elderly cats have easy access to a supply of
fresh clean drinking water. They are inclined to become
dehydrated because they are less sensitive to thirst and are
less effi cient thermoregulators (Markham & Hodgkins 1989 ).
Laboratory p rocedures
Handling and t raining
Cats that have been handled and well socialised as kittens
are much easier to handle and train as adults. Good han-
dling techniques help cats feel comfortable and secure.
Grown cats can be picked up with one hand under the chest,
just behind the front paws, and the other under the hind-
quarters (Wills, J. 1993 ). Once picked up, the cat will prob-
ably be most comfortable sitting in the crook of the handler s
arm, with its forepaws either leaning against the handler s
shoulder or held in the handler s other hand. Most of the
cat s weight should be taken on the handler s arms. Young
kittens should be picked up with one hand under the chest
and the other under the hindlegs. A young kitten will be
small enough to sit on a palm as long as the handler sup-
ports its head with the other hand.
Manual r estraint
The usual method of restraining a calm cat is to sit the cat
on a surface and hold its front legs. The jaw can be gently
but fi rmly held in the other hand to control its head.
Alternatively, it can be wrapped securely in a blanket
(reviewed by Wills, J. 1993 ). Further restraint may be neces-
sary for agitated or nervous cats, for example the use of an
extending collar on a rod or crush cages. Sedation is the
preferred method of restraint for any cat with a history of
being fractious. In the case of blood parameters, it greatly
diminishes the effect of stimulating the fi ght or fl ight
response on blood values.
A handling technique called ‘ clipnosis ’ or ‘ clipthesia ’ has
been described (Pozza et al. 2008 ), which is used to immobi-
lise cats for nail clipping, blood sampling and other minor
procedures. The application of spring paper clips or clothes
pegs that gently grasp the skin along the dorsal midline of
the neck and cranial thorax renders the cat immobile.
Although the technique s effectiveness varies between indi-
viduals, it appears to be useful for providing gentle restraint
in most cats (Pozza et al. 2008 ). Based on their behavioural
responses, the application of the clips does not appear to be
aversive to most cats.
Kittens will learn from their mother to use a litter tray.
Hand - reared kittens need to be trained to use one by putting
them on the tray frequently, particularly when they look
ready to urinate or defecate. Consideration should be given
to exposing kittens to minor procedures that will be part of
464 The domestic cat
reduce the risk of vomiting during induction or during the
recovery period.
Cats object to aggressive restraint, particularly if they are
not sedated. It is always better to give them the benefi t of
the doubt by fi rst handling them with the minimum restraint.
If stronger restraint is required, then premedication and
anaesthesia may be used.
Agents and dosages are given in Table 31.4 . Premedication
with a sedative is advisable, even in placid cats, as it reduces
struggling during induction. A less stressful induction has
several advantages: a reduced dose of induction agent and
maintenance agent is required; recovery is smoother; and
analgesia is more effective.
Pain can be diffi cult to recognise in cats, as their behavioural
responses may not be as overt as in other species such as the
dog. Behaviours indicating pain can be subtle and easily
overlooked, and there may be individual variation. Several
studies have examined the behavioural indicators of post -
operative pain; these indicators include the inhibition or loss
of normal behaviour (such as decreased grooming or failure
to eat), the expression of abnormal behaviours (such as
altered posture or aggression) (Waran et al. 2007 ) and
increased reaction or sensitivity to touch (Taylor & Robertson
2004 ). Chronic long - term pain, such as that caused by degen-
erative joint disease, is likely to have a more signifi cant
impact on the welfare of cats than is currently recognised.
Typical signs of chronic pain include reduced activity,
hiding, decreased interest and decreased response to sur-
roundings; there may be inappetance leading to weight loss.
Proper assessment of pain in cats will require the develop-
ment and validation of behaviour - based, multidimensional
pain measurement tools. These are available for dogs
(Holton et al. 2001 ) but are in their infancy for cats. Guidelines
on pain management in cats have recently been published
(Hellyer et al. 2007 ).
Safe and effective methods of analgesia are now available.
Pain should be prevented whenever possible. Pain can be
managed more effectively if analgesia is given before the
pain occurs. It is particularly important to consider any
requirements for analgesia in sedated cats as they may be
unable to demonstrate in any observable way the true level
of pain they are experiencing. If a procedure or a disease is
known to cause pain in other species, or it seems probable
that it might be painful, then analgesia should be given.
Analgesics should not be given as needed , rather they
should be administered on a fi xed schedule which can be
re - evaluated and changed as necessary. There should be a
scale of assessment that all workers can use.
There are two approaches to analgesia:
1. Non - pharmaceutical (see Post anaesthesia section);
2. Pharmaceutical:
Opioids morphine, oxymorphone, buprenor-
phine, fentanyl;
a tablet grasp the cat s head from above, at the points where
the jaws meet, with forefi nger and thumb, tip the head back
and press in with thumb and fi nger. Push on the lower
jaw with the index fi nger of the other hand to open the
animal s mouth and drop the tablet far back on the middle
of the tongue. Push it quickly and gently so it moves over
the back of the tongue. Close the mouth and gently stroke
the throat to encourage swallowing. Large tablets have to be
broken into smaller pieces. When giving liquid medicines
let the liquid run down the tongue drop by drop, allowing
the cat to swallow after every two to three drops or it may
Cats need to be restrained for the application of eye and
ear drops. To give ear drops hold the cat s head to one side
and put the drops in, externally massaging the ear canal
helps the drops to penetrate. Apply eye drops to the inner
corner of the eye and keep the head back for a while to allow
the drops to cover the eye s surface.
Injections are given when the cat is restrained.
Subcutaneous injections are usually given into the scruff of
the neck, intramuscular injections into the muscle (quadri-
ceps) overlying the femur of the hindleg or, for small
volumes, into the paralumbar (epaxial) muscles. Absorption
can be accelerated by gentle massage. Cats which require
routine subcutaneous injections (eg, diabetics) can be trained
to accept injection without restraint by associating the pro-
cedure with a highly palatable food treat.
Anaesthesia and a nalgesia
General advice can be found in Hall and Taylor (1994) and
Flecknell (2009) .
Pre - a naesthesia
Prior to administering an anaesthetic, food should be with-
held for 12 h (there is no need to withhold water). This will
Litter tray
Combined pH temperature probe
and meter
Figure 31.7 Non - invasive collection system for urine (after
Markwell & Smith 1993 ). Reproduced with kind permission of
Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.
The domestic cat 465
Table 31.4 Sedatives, tranquillisers, analgesics, pre - anaesthetic and anaesthetic medication for use in cats (derived from BSAVA Small
Animal Formulary 2005 , National Offi ce of Animal Health 2006 , Flecknell 1996 ). See also Flecknell (2009) . Data sheets should be consulted
for the various drugs, combinations with other drugs and their dosages and route of administration.
Drug Dosage Route Comments
Atropine sulphate 0.03 0.05 mg/kg sc
Acepromazine 0.03 0.125 mg/kg sc, im
Diazepam 0.1 0.3 mg/kg iv
0.2 0.4 mg/kg im
Buprenorphine 0.01 0.02 mg/kg sc, im. or sublingually Lasts 6 8 h
Morphine 0.1 0.2 mg/kg sc, im Lasts 6 8 h
Oxymorphone 0.02 0.1 mg/kg im, sc Lasts 2 6 h
Fentanyl: skin patch 0.025 mg/h patch for cats weighing
3 5 kg; in smaller cats only half the
protective liner should be removed
Applied to clipped and
shaved chest wall, and
covered with a light dressing
Replace every 2 3 days
Non - steroidal anti - infl ammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Carprofen 4 mg/kg sc or iv Lasts 24 h, given as a single dose;
one single further dose at 2 mg/kg
may be given
Meloxicam 0.3 mg/kg sc Lasts 24 h, given as a single dose
0.05 mg/kg Orally Once daily, following initial
0.1 mg/kg loading dose orally
Ketoprofen 2 mg/kg iv, im, sc Every 24 h for up to 3 days
2 mg/kg iv, im, sc Given once, followed by 1 mg/kg
orally every 24 h for 4 further days
1 mg/kg orally Every 24 h for up to 5 days
Local anaesthetics
Bupivacaine 0.5% Up to 1 mg/kg Perineural Duration 2 6 h
Lidocaine 2% Up to 4 mg/kg Perineural Duration 1 2 h
Sedatives and anaesthetics
Ketamine 1 2 mg/kg im Analgesia
11 mg/kg im Minor restraint (in lower doses and
with fewer side effects if combined
with other drugs)
22 33 mg/kg im Minor surgery (in lower doses and
with fewer side effects if combined
with other drugs)
2.2 4.4 mg/kg iv
Ketamine 5 10 mg/kg im Sedation
Midazolam 0.2 mg/kg
Ketamine 100 mg/kg im Anaesthesia; xylazine and atropine
are administered fi rst, followed by
ketamine 20 minutes later
Xylazine 1.1 mg/kg
Atropine 0.03 mg/kg
Ketamine 5 20 mg/kg im Sedation or anaesthesia depending
on dose
Medetomidine 40 100 μ g/kg
Ketamine 5 mg/kg im Anaesthesia
80 μ g/kg
Butorphanol 0.4 mg/kg
Local anaesthesia lidocaine, bupivacaine;
NSAIDs (non - steroidal anti - infl ammatory drugs)
carprofen; meloxicam, ketoprofen.
Prolonged, effective analgesia is best achieved by using a
combination of these drugs with non - pharmaceutical tech-
niques. The effect of opioid analgesia can be optimised by
For procedures lasting 20 minutes or less, or for minor
surgery (eg, suturing small skin wounds), cats are often
given intravenous general anaesthetics or heavy sedation
with analgesia (xylazine, medetomidine or ketamine). For
longer procedures or major surgery, general anaesthesia
is usually induced with intravenous agents and then
maintained with a gaseous anaesthetic. The preferred
route for intravenous administration is into the cephalic
vein in the foreleg (using a 0.6 mm or 0.5 mm (24 25 G),
16 mm needle). If this is not possible, the injection can
be made into the medial vein of the hindleg or jugular
For intubation, a selection of endotracheal tubes, from
3.0 5.5 mm, should be available. Cats have a very sensitive
laryngeal refl ex. To prevent laryngeal spasm, the larynx is
sprayed with 2% lidocaine and the endotracheal tube is
466 The domestic cat
Common w elfare p roblems
This section summarises the diseases that most commonly
threaten laboratory cats. More detailed reviews are pro-
vided by Chandler et al. (2007) and Sherding (2008) . See also
King and Boag (2007) .
Cats are susceptible to a number of viral, bacterial and para-
sitic diseases. Colony cats should be vaccinated from the age
of 9 12 weeks against feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline cali-
civirus and feline infectious enteritis. It is important to use
a killed vaccine in an SPF - derived cat to minimise the risk
of experiencing full - blown disease. Closed colonies are
unlikely to be exposed to the feline leukaemia virus. Cats
entering the colony should be treated to eliminate all para-
sites; in a closed colony reinfestation is unlikely.
Signs of d iseases
A cat s behaviour and appearance refl ect its state of health.
A healthy cat will have an alert bearing and move easily and
confi dently about its accommodation. It will be interested in
its surroundings and its food, and groom frequently. It will
have clean ears, eyes, mouth and skin. Animals that show
any deviations from these signs should be observed and
examined carefully to investigate the cause. Any cat exhibit-
ing watery lacrimation, purulent discharges from eyes, nose,
or ears, excessive salivation, vomiting or diarrhoea should
be isolated immediately.
Viral d iseases
Feline i mmunodefi ciency v irus ( FIV )
FIV is a lentivirus that shares many characteristics of other
lentiviruses, such as human immunodefi ciency virus. FIV is
transmitted primarily by parenteral inoculation of virus
present in saliva or blood, via bite and fi ght wounds. This
accounts for the higher prevalence of the virus in adult male
cats. Occasional transmission of virus in utero and post par-
turition via the milk may occur.
FIV infection progresses through several stages: an acute
phase; a clinically asymptomatic phase of variable duration;
and a terminal phase of infection often referred to as feline
acquired immunodefi ciency syndrome (Sellon & Hartmann
2006 ). The hallmark of FIV pathogenesis is progressive dis-
ruption of normal immune function. During the last stages
of infection, clinical signs are often a refl ection of opportun-
istic infections, neoplasia, myelosuppression and neurologi-
cal disease. However, with proper care some FIV - infected
cats can live for many years with a good quality of life, and
may die in old age from causes unrelated to FIV infection.
Diagnosis of FIV infection is made most commonly by
detection of FIV - specifi c antibodies in blood by either
enzyme - linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or rapid
immunomigration - type assays (Sellon & Hartmann 2006 ).
An FIV vaccine is available commercially (Fel - O - Vax ® , Fort
Dodge); because the vaccine contains whole virus, cats
lubricated with lidocaine gel. The formulation of some local
anaesthetic sprays can cause laryngeal oedema in cats, and
the spray should be checked before use to ensure it is safe
for use in cats. A semi - rigid wire in the lumen of the endotra-
cheal tube can facilitate tracheal intubation. The end of the
tube should not pass further than the point of the
Intravenous a gents and d osages
Agents used routinely for intravenous induction of anaes-
thesia are: 2.5% thiopental (10 mg/kg iv) or propofol, 10 mg/
ml emulsion (6 mg/kg iv for a premedicated cat).
Gaseous a gents
Gaseous agents include isofl urane, sevofl urane and haloth-
ane. Isofl urane is considered to have several benefi ts over
halothane. Sevofl urane is relatively new to the veterinary
market, but appears to have benefi ts over halothane and to
be similar to isofl urane (Hammond 2007 ).
Muscle r elaxants
With modern anaesthetics, muscle relaxants are not usually
necessary. Their use is not recommended unless the anaes-
thetist is very experienced with feline anaesthetics.
Anaesthetic p rotocol b est p ractice
A best practice protocol for routine surgery would be: ace-
promazine; buprenorphine; carprofen or meloxicam; intra-
venous propofol; isofl urane; and with application of local
anaesthetic into the wound.
Post a naesthesia
A variety of non - pharmaceutical techniques can be used to
create the optimum conditions in the cat s external and
internal environments. Cats should be allowed to recover
from anaesthesia in a quiet warm room. They should be
nursed on soft bedding and kept clean and comfortable. A
semi - enclosed box or high - sided soft bed where the cat can
feel secure and still be monitored can be useful. Cats that
are used to contact with humans can be given plenty of reas-
suring verbal and physical contact. Frightening noise and
smells should be excluded from the recovery area. Any
painful tissues should be immobilised using splints or band-
ages. The cat should be carefully monitored throughout the
post - anaesthesia recovery period, as it is during this time
that complications are most likely to occur.
Euthanasia should be performed in a dignifi ed manner,
minimising any mental or physical suffering to the cat, (see
also Chapter 17 ). The method of choice is injection of an
anaesthetic agent suffi cient to cause rapid unconsciousness
and a certain death. A common method is to give a high
overdose (about 200 mg/kg) of pentobarbital by intravenous
injection. This results in an immediate loss of consciousness,
rapidly followed by deep narcosis and respiratory and
cardiac arrest. The cat dies within a few seconds apparently
without pain or distress. If a cat is diffi cult to handle, it may
need to be sedated before being euthanased.
The domestic cat 467
are less than 2 years of age, although all age groups can be
affected (Addie & Jarrett 2006 ). The risk factors for FIP
development are age and crowding, with young cats in
crowded catteries being most at risk. Good husbandry is
particularly important in controlling FIP. When establishing
a colony a decision must be made on whether to focus on
FIP or the coronavirus family. If it is the broader family, then
the goal should be to maintain the cats free of antibodies to
coronaviruses. This would require a different level of sur-
veillance and then the use of vaccines.
An intranasal vaccine, given to cats over 16 weeks of age,
has been developed but it is not effective if the cat has
already been exposed to the virus. Defi nitive diagnosis of
FIP is by post - mortem examination or by using DNA sequenc-
ing to detect FIP virus genes in blood, peritoneal fl uid or
tissue biopsy.
Feline i nfectious e nteritis or p anleucopenia ( FIE )
Feline panleucopenia is a parvovirus; it is shed in all body
secretions during acute stages of disease, but mainly in the
vomitus and faeces. It has a short shedding period but long
survival in the environment (Greene & Addie 2006 ), where
it is resistant to heat and to many disinfectants. FIE is a
highly infectious disease with a high mortality rate. The
virus is usually transmitted by indirect contact of suscepti-
ble animals with contaminated premises; in utero transmis-
sion does occur, and may cause early foetal death and
resorption or result in the birth of live kittens with varying
degrees of neurological damage.
Subclinical cases of infection, more common in older cats,
may go unrecognised, while severe clinical illness is the rule
in young kittens; sudden death may occur. A presumptive
diagnosis is usually made based on clinical signs and the
presence of leucopenia. With appropriate symptomatic
therapy and nursing care, cats may recover from infection.
Immunisation has been very effective at reducing the inci-
dence of this disease.
Feline v iral u pper r espiratory i nfection ( c at u)
Between 85% and 90% of cases are caused by either feline
herpesvirus (which causes feline viral rhinotracheitis) or
feline calicivirus. Feline herpesvirus (FHV) generally causes
more severe disease than feline calicivirus (FCV), but FCV
appears to be relatively more common. The viruses are shed
mainly in ocular, nasal and oral secretions, and transmission
is largely by direct contact from infected to susceptible cat.
After FHV infection virtually all recovered cats become
latently infected carriers, with intermittent episodes of virus
shedding, particularly after periods of stress. FCV carriers
shed virus more or less continuously; in some cats the carrier
state appears to be lifelong, but most cats at some point
spontaneously recover and appear to eliminate the virus.
Bordetella bronchiseptica is also recognised as a primary
pathogen to the feline respiratory tract, although its precise
contribution to disease in the fi eld is not yet fully established
(Gaskell et al. 2006 ).
Although immunisation cannot guarantee complete pro-
tection from upper respiratory infection nor from the devel-
opment of latent infection, routine vaccination of kittens
using a modifi ed live or killed bivalent vaccine, and regular
booster vaccination, is recommended.
respond to vaccination by producing antibodies that are
indistinguishable from those produced during natural
Feline l eukaemia v irus ( F e LV )
The prevalence and importance of FeLV as a pathogen in
cats are decreasing, primarily because of testing and eradi-
cation programmes and the routine use of FeLV vaccines.
FeLV, a retrovirus and member of the Oncornavirus sub-
family, causes clinical illness related to the haemopoeitic
and immune systems and neoplasia. The three most impor-
tant FeLV subgroups are FeLV - A, FeLV - B and FeLV - C; only
FeLV - A is contagious and passed horizontally from cat to
cat in nature. Subgroups FeLV - B and FeLV - C evolve de novo
in an FeLV - A - infected cat by mutation and recombination
between FeLV - A and cellular or endogenous retroviral
sequences contained in normal feline DNA (Hartmann
2006 ).
FeLV spreads between susceptible cats primarily via
saliva, where virus concentration is higher than in plasma.
Vertical transmission can also occur: kittens can be infected
transplacentally or when the queen licks and nurses them.
Susceptibility to infection is highest in young kittens. The
outcome of FeLV infection mainly depends on immune
status and age of the cat, but is also affected by virus patho-
genicity, infection pressure and virus concentration.
Guidelines for testing cats for FeLV have been published
(American Association of Feline Practitioners and Academy
of Feline Medicine (AAFP/AFM) 2001 ). While persistently
viraemic cats have a decreased life expectancy, treatments
for the many clinical syndromes that accompany infection
are available. A discussion of FeLV infection and outcome,
testing and treatment can be found in Hartmann (2006) .
FeLV vaccines are available but the relative effi cacy of the
vaccines is controversial. Vaccine effi cacy testing protocols
vary widely between studies and are complicated by the
natural resistance of cats (especially older cats) to FeLV
infection; none of the licensed vaccines are 100% effective.
An epidemiological association exists between FeLV (and
rabies) vaccination and the later development of soft tissue
sarcomas at the injection site, referred to as injection site
sarcomas, vaccine - associated sarcomas and vaccine site -
associated sarcomas (Hartmann 2006 ).
Feline i nfectious p eritonitis ( FIP )
FIP is an infrequent virus infection, which is almost invari-
ably fatal. It is caused by feline infectious peritonitis virus
(FIPV), which is generally accepted to be a mutation of feline
enteric coronavirus (FECV) (Addie & Jarrett 2006 ). The latter
is common in the domestic cat population, particularly in
multicat households or where cats are kept in crowded con-
ditions. Transmission is primarily indirect through contact
with virus - containing faeces or fomites, for example con-
taminated litter trays.
The mutation enables FIPV to infect macrophages and
monocytes, and spread throughout the body. The damage
caused by the virus is due to the intense immune reaction,
localised infl ammatory response and vasculitis at the site of
virus colonisation.
Two basic forms of FIP, effusive (wet) and non - effusive
(dry) are recognised. Approximately half the cats with FIP
468 The domestic cat
Studies of stray cats housed communally at a shelter have
shown that most overt aggression occurs within the fi rst 4
days and that mutual toleration is established after 2 weeks
(Bradshaw 1992 ). However, although many of these cats will
appear to have behaviourally habituated to confi nement at
this stage, a recent study has shown that cats were still
showing abnormally high urinary cortisol levels (indicative
of increased stress) up to 5 weeks after entry to a quarantine
cattery (Rochlitz et al. 1995 ). Behavioural inhibition is com-
monly the response of cats to confi nement. Unlike the more
overt forms of distress like vocalising, spitting, hissing and
growling, behavioural inhibition is easy to miss unless
detailed observation is made of the cat (McCune 1992 ).
Preventing p roblems
Research animals without behavioural problems are likely
to have better welfare and be better for research purposes.
Many problems associated with confi nement can be pre-
vented by adequate early socialisation and careful selection
of cats for suitable temperament (Robinson 1992b ; McCune
et al. 1995 ). Siegford et al. (2003) developed and validated a
test to evaluate temperament in cats. These authors found
that cats could be ranked, using an easily scored feline tem-
perament profi le (FTP), as being more or less sociable
toward people, and that FTP scores were fairly consistent
over time and circumstance and correlated positively with
responses of cats to animal care staff and unfamiliar humans.
Cats with timid temperament, extremes of age and restricted
experience are more likely to have problems adjusting to
confi nement and responding to novelty.
There are three approaches to preventing stress in con-
ned cats: (1) selective breeding of the most suitable indi-
viduals; (2) an investment of time and effort in the early
development phase of kittens; and (3) maintaining a varied
and stimulating environment which offers cats choices
about what they do and where they do it.
All these approaches have been touched on earlier in this
chapter. The benefi ts of breeding from healthy, confi dent,
well socialised, unrelated parents will help preserve the
quality of a cat colony. Early socialisation is a critical time
in the development of kittens and, if handled sensitively,
will produce cats that are more tractable and pleasant to
work with. The quality of the environment is also critical to
a cat s well - being. With a little imagination, there can be
many opportunities for providing variety and reducing
stress (reviewed in McCune 1997 ). Enriching the environ-
ment through the provision of social contact, toys and food
presented in novel ways will help to ensure good welfare.
Keeping groups stable reduces confl ict. Where cats cannot
be group - housed they can be given visual, olfactory and
auditory contact by using glass partitions with nose - height
holes drilled between adjacent pens. They can be given
access to a communal room on a rota basis, each cat leaving
olfactory and sometimes visible messages for the next
occupant. Likewise, scratch posts can be moved from one
pen to another (these posts carry interesting olfactory
Although cats normally spend a large part of their day
asleep or resting, they can become bored. They should be
Cats can carry zoonotic diseases that may be a risk to
people (reviewed by Greene & Levy 2006 ).
Reproductive p roblems
Major causes of infertility in both toms and queens include
inbreeding, poor husbandry, disease, anatomical or repro-
ductive defects and social stress. Investigation should fi rst
eliminate any non - reproductive disorders by a thorough
physical, haematological and biochemical examination, fol-
lowed by a thorough evaluation of the reproductive system
and semen.
Prolonged anoestrus is usually a management problem.
The cats general health and nutrition should be optimised,
and they should be exposed to 14 16 h of light per day and
to reproductively active cats. Some queens cycle but do not
show any oestrous behaviour (silent heat). They may breed
if housed with a male.
Failure to mate may be caused by inexperience. Virgins
should be partnered with an amenable, experienced mate.
Immature toms can lack libido, some may respond after
visual exposure to breeding males, others may need more
time to mature. Toms should mate in familiar surroundings
otherwise they may concentrate on territory marking instead
of mating. Mating may fail because the cats are incompati-
ble; the cats may have defi nite mating preferences, or some
physical incompatibility may prevent intromission.
Queens may not conceive after mating. Failure to conceive
following breeding is occasionally caused by vaginal or,
more commonly, by uterine disease. Ovulation may fail
because of inadequate vaginal stimulation or hormonal
insuffi ciencies. Toms may fail to inseminate; their fertility
declines if they are mated too frequently. Failure to carry a
pregnancy to term has been associated with environmental
stress, dietary insuffi ciencies, or failure of extraovarian
Effects of n eutering
Neutering eliminates sexual behaviour in males and females,
and maternal behaviour in females. It reduces the incidence
of behaviours such as urine marking in both sexes, and
increases tolerance towards cats from outside the social
group (Bradshaw 1992 ). However, neutering predisposes to
obesity by causing a reduction in energy expenditure. While
a cat may adapt its food intake in accordance with this, the
adaptation may take 9 10 weeks, by which time its body
weight would have increased. The risk of obesity is greatly
increased if the cat is confi ned in a small enclosure and is
Abnormal b ehaviour
Specifi c problems associated with confi nement include
boredom, aggression to people and cats, fearfulness, behav-
ioural inhibition, withdrawal, escape behaviour, hiding,
poor reproductive success, anorexia, weight loss, tail
chasing, stereotypies, fabric eating and self - mutilation
(reviewed in McCune 1995b ). Introducing a new cat into a
stable colony produces confl ict in the group until both new-
comer and residents habituate to the new social hierarchy.
The domestic cat 469
roidism, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis. Sensory loss,
such as deafness, and signs of cognitive impairment may
become evident (Bowen & Heath 2005 ). Signs of cognitive
impairment may include disorientation, altered interaction
with others, sleep problems (usually associated with vocali-
sation), house soiling and failure of appetite. A number of
treatment approaches may be used. Environmental modifi -
cation, by making the environment more accessible to the
cat (for example, providing additional, lower resting and
hiding places), exposure to play and increased social contact,
will stimulate and maintain mental processes. Dietary sup-
plementation with a range of antioxidants, essential fatty
acids and other additives has been shown to improve neu-
ronal metabolic function and boost central nervous system
antioxidant reserve. While environmental enrichment and
dietary modifi cation should be the mainstay therapies to
delay progression of cognitive decline, and where euthana-
sia is not indicated because of the nature of the research,
some psychoactive drugs may also be useful (Bowen &
Heath 2005 ).
Feline f acial p heromones
A range of pheromones has been isolated from feline facial
secretions (Mills 2005 ), and two fractions are available com-
mercially: F3 and F4. The F3 fraction can be used to have a
calming effect on cats and facilitate their adaptation to new
environments, such as new housing or hospitalisation for
veterinary treatment (Griffi th et al. 2000 ), or during trans-
port. It is also used in the treatment of behavioural problems
such as urine marking and spraying, and scratching of
objects. It is available as a spray for application onto cages,
tables and blankets and as a plug - in diffuser for rooms or
treatment areas. The F4 fraction reduces the cat s wariness
of unfamiliar people, and is used to reduce the risk of
aggression due to handling in the veterinary hospital. It is
available as a spray that is applied to the environment or to
the person s hands prior to handling the cat.
Monitoring w elfare
The effect of changes made to relieve stress and enrich the
captive environment can be assessed by looking for a
decrease in abnormal behaviours associated with long - term
stress (Bradshaw 1992 ) and for a behavioural repertoire
which more closely resembles that of free - ranging cats (UK
Cat Behaviour Working Group 1995 ; see also Chapter 6 ).
Changes over time can be assessed quickly by using a
scoring system. A composite behavioural scale for quantify-
ing stress in confi ned cats was devised by McCune (1992)
and had 10 levels, which were later reduced to seven
(McCune 1994 ). This scale was refi ned by Kessler and Turner
(1997) by adding more postural elements to form the cat
stress score (CSS), still with seven levels. This behavioural
score correlates well with many indicators of stress (McCune
1992 ), although there is not always agreement between it
and some physiological measures of stress (McCobb et al.
2005 ). Casey (2007a) found a negative correlation between
the rate of decline of the CSS and the rate of decline of
Figure 31.8 Presenting part of the food ration in a puzzle can
provide a rewarding challenge.
given opportunities for play, exercise and predatory behav-
iour. Food is often used as an enrichment device. Dry food
is particularly suitable for hiding in pens or for placing
inside containers which the cat has to work at to extract
individual pieces. Puzzle boxes are now commercially avail-
able and can extend the handling time of the food. Small
pieces of dry food (or toys) can be pawed through irregular
openings in the lid of the box (Figure 31.8 ).
Cats socialised to humans fi nd human company stimulat-
ing and have been found to show signs of stress when the
caretaking style becomes less interactive (Carlstead et al.
1993 ). A range of activities can be engaged in, from talking
quietly to interactive play with a range of toys. Activities
can be selected to suit the personality and response of the
individual cat. Cats will play with toys. They show most
interest in toys that mimic prey but toys need to be changed
frequently and offered in randomised rotation to sustain
long - term interest. Rods attached to toy fi sh that can be
jiggled to stimulate play seem particularly popular with
younger cats.
In addition to providing an enriched environment, fear-
fulness can be signifi cantly reduced by consistent, positive
handling (Gourkow & Fraser 2006 ). Animal care staff should
handle the cats under their care daily, at times that are not
part of routine caretaking procedures such as feeding or
cleaning (Rochlitz 2000 ). Hoskins (1995) examined the effect
of human contact on the reactions of cats in a rescue shelter:
cats that received additional handling sessions, where they
interacted closely with a familiar person, could subsequently
be held for longer by an unfamiliar person than cats that did
not receive additional handling sessions.
Older c ats
A range of medical and behavioural conditions is recognised
in older cats. Common medical conditions associated with
aging include renal disease, dental disease, hyperthy-
470 The domestic cat
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... They avoid physical confrontation by using behaviours to maintain distance, such as olfactory marking, posturing and vocalisation. They try to evade threats from other cats by hiding or fleeing to elevated locations (McCune, 2010). However, they can be housed in compatible groups or in pairs. ...
... The enclosure should include shelves at different heights and a choice of comfortable resting and hiding places. A significant reduction in stress was noted when cats were provided with a cardboard hiding box compared to control cats housed only with an open resting place (McCune, 2010). ...
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We evaluated behavioural changes in domestic cats during short-term hospitalisation using a novel cat demeanour scoring system. Thirty-five healthy, client-owned cats admitted for neutering were enrolled. Cats were housed in a standardised cat ward for a short-term hospitalisation period (3–5 days) and demeanour scores were recorded once daily. The scoring system classified cats into one of five behavioural groupings: friendly and confident, friendly and shy, withdrawn and protective, withdrawn and aggressive, and overtly aggressive. Total demeanour score decreased over time (P <0.001) and the demeanour category improved (P <0.001). The intra-class correlation was 0.843 (P <0.001) and kappa was 0.606 (P <0.001), suggesting good repeatability and agreement among investigators. The demeanour scoring system was effective in detecting a change in behaviour in healthy cats undergoing short-term hospitalisation. The findings suggest that healthy cats require 2 days to acclimatise to hospitalisation. 10.1177/1098612X13509081
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Laboratory Animal Anaesthesia, Fourth Edition provides a basic guide to anaesthesia for a very diverse audience needing content, with straight-forward, structured style of writing. Updated with effects of anaesthetics in different laboratory species, including sources of dose rates will be incorporated into tabular material. New information on pain assessment and pain management will be covered, and an increased emphasis on rats and mice for anaesthesia and perioperative care. With newly revised, full color illustrations to facilitate best learning, Laboratory animal Anesthesia, Fourth Edition provides procedures, key points and invaluable advice from a well-known and respected veterinary anesthetist and scientist with over 30 years of experience in the field.
The past few decades have seen a virtual explosion of scientific research in the area of cognition, emotions, suffering, and mental states in animals. Studies in the field, laboratory, and clinical medical practice have amassed an overwhelming body of evidence demonstrating that mental well-being is of paramount importance in all aspects of animal care. There is no longer any reasonable doubt among researchers that mental health is of equal importance as physical health and animal well-being. Recent research convincingly shows that physical health is strongly influenced by mental states, thereby making it clear that effective health care requires attention to the emotional well-being as well as physical. Yet, for its vast importance, mental health in veterinary medicine has to date not been compiled and structured into an organized field or body of knowledge. This information, so critical to the formal establishment of the field of mental health and well-being in animals, remains scattered throughout a wide array of scientific journals. This book represents the first authoritative reference text bringing together the most up-to-date information in the variety of subjects comprising the field of mental health and well-being in animals. Bringing together a host of distinguished experts internationally noted in the fields of animal emotion research, animal behavior, cognitive science, and neuroscience, the book represents the first authoritative reference compiling the diverse information on the animal mind and combining the revolutionary advances in the cognitive sciences with the knowledge in veterinary medicine and clinical animal behavior. This book takes a descriptive and proscriptive approach to mental health, mixing the scientific research with practical information with clinical applications for veterinary health professionals to use in practice.
Knowledge of the cat has advanced rapidly in the 9 years since the second edition of Feline Medicine and Therapeutics was published. The primary object of this book remains the same however - to help veterinary surgeons and students to practise the art and science of feline medicine. © 2004 British Small Animal Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
Discusses variation in Felis catus social behaviour, distinguishing between: 1) populations in which adult females are generally solitary and those where they are gregarious; 2) variation in group size and social structure, and 3) individual variation within and between age and sex classes in terms of the nature of social relationships. Specifically, note is taken of the significance of spacing, encounters, use of social odours, group size and structure, and social dynamics. Attention is paid to the nature and consequences of the social hierarchy that is established in farm cat societies, which varies considerably between populations. -S.J.Yates