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Keywords:

  • Felis viverrina;
  • F. bengalensis;
  • activity budget;
  • predation;
  • stereotypic behavior;
  • environmental enrichment

Abstract

Captive small felids frequently pace repetitively and/or spend large amounts of time inactive. Presenting a fishing cat with live-fish resulted in more activity (60% less sleeping), increased behavioral diversity, including previously unobserved hunting behaviors, and greater enclosure utilization. Effects persisted for at least 48 h after presentation of live fish, and up to 8 days. In a second study, four leopard cats were fed: (1) once per day, (2) four times per day and, (3) four times per day with food hidden in small piles of brush. Multiple feedings of hidden food increased daily exploratory behavior from 5.5% to over 14%, and increased the diversity of behaviors observed. It also reduced the total duration, and bout length of stereotyped pacing. These studies suggest that providing food to small cats in a way that minimizes predictability of food availability, while maximizing the functional consequences of foraging behavior, can be an effective enrichment technique. These results are discussed in relation to two models of behavioral motivation, one that focuses on the issue of behavioral needs, and the other that emphasizes the importance of information acquisition. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.