The influence of body region, handler familiarity and order of region handled on the domestic cat's response to being stroked

Ellis, Sarah Lesley Helen and Thompson, Hannah and Guijarro, Cristina and Zulch, Helen Eileen (2015) The influence of body region, handler familiarity and order of region handled on the domestic cat's response to being stroked. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 173 . pp. 60-67. ISSN 0168-1591

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Abstract

tThe domestic cat is now one of the most common pet species in the Western world. Aspart of its role as a pet, cats are expected to not only tolerate but enjoy being touched.This study consisted of two experiments, with the first investigating the influence of bodyregion touched and handler familiarity on the domestic cat’s behavioural response to beingstroked. The second experiment extended this work by investigating the influence of orderof body region touched on behavioural responses. Both handler familiarity and body regionstroked significantly influenced negative behavioural responses. Familiar handling, in com-parison to unfamiliar handling, led to significantly higher negative behavioural scoresdisplayed by the cats (score of 8.5 versus 5.0 respectively, p = 0.001). When consideringthe different body regions investigated, the caudal region produced the highest negativescores both when handled by the unfamiliar person (Experiment 1: score of 2.0 in com-parison to scores of 0.0–1.0 for other studied body regions, p = 0.046) and by the familiarperson (Experiment 2: score of 2.0 in comparison to a score of 1.0 for each other studied bodyregion, p = 0.002). Order of body region touched had no significant bearing on behaviouralresponses exhibited. Results suggest that handling of cats should avoid the caudal regionand highlight the need for further investigation into the owner–cat relationship.

Keywords:Cat, Tactile stimulation, Human–animal relationship, Welfare, Behaviour, Stroking
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:19954
Deposited On:10 Jan 2016 21:00

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