The influence of visual stimulation on the behaviour of cats housed in a rescue shelter

Ellis, Sarah and Wells, Deborah (2008) The influence of visual stimulation on the behaviour of cats housed in a rescue shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 113 (1). pp. 166-174. ISSN 0168-1591

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Abstract

This study explored the influence of 5 types of visual stimulation (1 control condition [no visual
stimulation] and 4 experimental conditions [blank television screen; and, televised images depicting
humans, inanimate movement, animate movement]) on the behaviour of 125 cats housed in a rescue
shelter. Twenty-five cats were randomly assigned to one of the five conditions of visual stimulation for
3 h a day for 3 days. Each cat’s behaviour was recorded every 5 min throughout each day of exposure to
the visual stimuli. Cats spent relatively little of the total observation time (6.10%) looking at the
television monitors. Animals exposed to the programmes depicting animate and inanimate forms of
movement spent significantly more of their time looking at the monitors than those exposed to the
moving images of humans or the blank screen. The amount of attention that the cats directed towards the
television monitors decreased significantly across their 3 h of daily presentation, suggesting habituation.
Certain components of the cats’ behaviour were influenced by visual stimulation. Animals in the
animate movement condition spent significantly less time sleeping, and displayed a non-significant trend
to spend more time resting, and in the exercise area of their pens, than those in the other conditions of
visual stimulation. Overall, the results from this study suggest that visual stimulation in the form of twodimensional
video-tape sequences, notably that combining elements of prey items and linear movement,
may hold some enrichment potential for domestic cats housed in rescue shelters. Such animals, however,
may not benefit from this type of enrichment to the same degree as species with more well-developed
visual systems, such as primates.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This study explored the influence of 5 types of visual stimulation (1 control condition [no visual stimulation] and 4 experimental conditions [blank television screen; and, televised images depicting humans, inanimate movement, animate movement]) on the behaviour of 125 cats housed in a rescue shelter. Twenty-five cats were randomly assigned to one of the five conditions of visual stimulation for 3 h a day for 3 days. Each cat’s behaviour was recorded every 5 min throughout each day of exposure to the visual stimuli. Cats spent relatively little of the total observation time (6.10%) looking at the television monitors. Animals exposed to the programmes depicting animate and inanimate forms of movement spent significantly more of their time looking at the monitors than those exposed to the moving images of humans or the blank screen. The amount of attention that the cats directed towards the television monitors decreased significantly across their 3 h of daily presentation, suggesting habituation. Certain components of the cats’ behaviour were influenced by visual stimulation. Animals in the animate movement condition spent significantly less time sleeping, and displayed a non-significant trend to spend more time resting, and in the exercise area of their pens, than those in the other conditions of visual stimulation. Overall, the results from this study suggest that visual stimulation in the form of twodimensional video-tape sequences, notably that combining elements of prey items and linear movement, may hold some enrichment potential for domestic cats housed in rescue shelters. Such animals, however, may not benefit from this type of enrichment to the same degree as species with more well-developed visual systems, such as primates.
Keywords:behaviour, cats, enrichment, rescue, television, visual stimulation, welfare
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D320 Animal Health
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:4660
Deposited By: Sarah Ellis
Deposited On:23 Sep 2011 18:47
Last Modified:30 Apr 2013 08:18

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