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The effect of animal shelter sound on cat behaviour and welfare Eagan, Bailey Hope

Abstract

This study assessed how sound in an animal shelter affects cat behaviour. Singly housed cats (n=98) were observed over 5 months. Fear-related and maintenance-related behaviour were recorded for 30-minute periods on weekdays (AM 10:00-10:30, PM 20:00-20:30) or weekends (AM 7:00-7:30, PM 19:00-19:30) daily from admittance for 10 days or until removed. Cats observed both AM and PM on 2 or more weekdays were used for analysis (n=70). Behaviour, plus presence of sound (classified by the source), was recorded using instantaneous and one-zero sampling with 15-second intervals. Each 30-minute observation period was classified as “quiet” or “loud” if the sound was above or below (respectively) the median for all periods at the same time of day. Data were analyzed by non-parametric Wilcoxon signed-rank tests for differences in behaviour between AM and PM periods. Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to test differences between age groups, source of cats, and Asilomar Accords. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to test differences in fear and maintenance behaviour between males and females. Cats varied widely in the amount of fear and maintenance behaviour they performed. Some spent all their observed time in fear behaviour (especially hiding) and no maintenance behaviour, while others showed no fear behaviour and spent up to 25% of observation intervals in maintenance behaviours. AM periods consistently had much more sound than PM. Cats showed more fear behaviour (p

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