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Keywords:

  • behavior;
  • cage size;
  • domestic cats;
  • stress;
  • urinary cortisol

ABSTRACT

Cats need a minimum amount of space even in animal shelters. In this study the effects of single caging and cage size on the behavior and stress level of domestic cats were investigated. Six neutered cats (2–15 years old) that had been housed in a group for at least 7 months were moved to three kinds of single cages (small, medium and large) by rotation on a Latin square design. They experienced each cage size for 6 days. Cats could use vertical dimensions when housed in a group room and the large cage. Behavioral observation was conducted for 3 h in the evening, and stress levels were assessed by urine cortisol-to-creatinine ratios. The amounts (estimated proportions) of time spent in locomotion and social/solitary play were lower even in large cages than in group housing (both P < 0.05). Conversely, the amount of time spent resting tended to increase when housed singly (P = 0.104). The urine cortisol-to-creatinine ratios of singly housed cats tended to be higher than that of group-housed cats (P = 0.086). The results indicate that cats become less active when they are housed singly in cages regardless of the cage size. Cats seem to feel no undue stress even in small cages if the stay is short.