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The ins and outs of the litter box: A detailed ethogram of cat elimination behavior in two contrasting environments

Published on Sep 1, 2017in Applied Animal Behaviour Science 1.82
· DOI :10.1016/j.applanim.2017.05.009
Ragen T.S. McGowan4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Nestlé),
Jacklyn Jaye Ellis1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Nestlé)
+ 1 AuthorsFrançois Martin4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Nestlé)
Cite
Abstract
Abstract Few studies have sought to describe cat elimination behavior in detail and much of the information presently available focuses on factors that potentially cause cats to reject a litter box. Thus, the ethograms published in the current veterinary and scientific literature largely focus on macro behaviors (e.g., enter box, dig, squat, cover, and exit box) and lack the detail necessary to make distinctions between types of litter box experiences for cats. To facilitate our understanding of what positive and negative litter box experiences look like for cats, we observed cats eliminating in both an enriched (“positive”) and in a clinic-like (“restricted”) environment. Our results reveal that cat elimination behavior is complex and may include up to 39 different behaviors expressed during urination and defecation events. We further evaluated each event, examining the behaviors occurring pre-, during, and post-elimination as a means to better understand the behaviors associated with the appetitive, consummatory, and post-consummatory phases of the reward cycle around elimination. In doing so, we found clear differences in behavior at different stages of the elimination sequence between our two environments. In general, the elimination sequence was prolonged in the clinic-like environment compared to the enriched environment ( P   0.005) and most of the extra time was spent interacting with the box post-elimination ( P   0.005). In the clinic-like environment cats were hesitant to enter the box, spent a considerable amount of time pawing at surfaces other than the litter ( P   0.02) and spent a great deal of time sniffing eliminations post-elimination ( P   0.005). In addition, cats in the clinic-like environment had less frequent urination events and their events were longer in duration than when in the enriched environment ( P   0.0039). Thus, although seemingly counterintuitive, a relatively brief elimination sequence may be indicative of a more positive litter box experience. In addition, when given the opportunity cats will utilize a large amount of space during their elimination sequence. Despite popular perception that cats will immediately turn to out-of-box elimination if they are dissatisfied with their litter box environment, we discovered that cats will continue to use a box (and not eliminate outside the box) even when their behavior is indicative of frustration.
  • References (19)
  • Citations (1)
Cite
References19
Newest
Published on Dec 1, 2016in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 1.58
Joana Soares Pereira1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UTAD: University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro),
Sara Fragoso2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Porto)
+ 3 AuthorsGonçalo Da Graça Pereira3
Estimated H-index: 3
ObjectivesGoing to the veterinary clinic is a stressful experience for most cats as they feel threatened when entering a new and confined environment. The aim of this research was to investigate if Feliway spray, when used on the table in the consultation room, can decrease cats’ stress and ease their handling.MethodsA randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was developed, using a total sample of 87 cats of both sexes, castrated or intact, of any breed, aged >26 weeks. A Feli...
Norma C. Guy4
Estimated H-index: 4
(UPEI: University of Prince Edward Island),
Marti Hopson1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UPEI: University of Prince Edward Island),
Raphaël Vanderstichel12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UPEI: University of Prince Edward Island)
Abstract The objective of this study was to evaluate the response of healthy housebound domestic cats to the simultaneous provision of 2 litterboxes of differing sizes by recording the average daily frequency of urination and defecation in each box. Forty-three households with 74 privately owned cats were each provided with 2 different-sized plastic containers, with the larger box being 86 cm in length, exceeding the size of commercially available litterboxes. Owners were also provided with an u...
Published on Sep 1, 2013in Applied Animal Behaviour Science 1.82
Birgitte Seehuus2
Estimated H-index: 2
(SLU: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences),
Michael Mendl44
Estimated H-index: 44
+ 1 AuthorsH.J. Blokhuis45
Estimated H-index: 45
(SLU: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)
Abstract The ‘reward cycle’ conceptualises reward acquisition as a cyclic phenomenon divided into three motivational stages with related emotional or affective states. For feeding behaviour such a cycle consists of an appetitive stage characterised by foraging and exploration linked to emotions such as wanting and anticipation, a consummatory stage with eating behaviour linked to liking and pleasure, and a post-consummatory stage linked to satiety and relaxation with behaviour like resting and p...
Published on Jan 1, 2013in arXiv: Fluid Dynamics 2.44
Patricia J. Yang2
Estimated H-index: 2
,
Jonathan C. Pham1
Estimated H-index: 1
+ 1 AuthorsDavid L. Hu18
Estimated H-index: 18
Many urological studies rely upon animal models such as rats and pigs whose urination physics and correlation to humans are poorly understood. Here we elucidate the hydrodynamics of urination across five orders of magnitude in animal mass. Using high-speed videography and flow rate measurement at Zoo Atlanta, we discover the "Law of Urination," which states animals empty their bladders over nearly constant duration of average 21 seconds (standard deviation 13 seconds). This feat is made possible...
Published on Jul 1, 2011in Applied Animal Behaviour Science 1.82
Oliver Burman16
Estimated H-index: 16
(UoB: University of Bristol),
Ragen T.S. McGowan4
Estimated H-index: 4
(SLU: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)
+ 4 AuthorsLinda J. Keeling34
Estimated H-index: 34
(SLU: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)
Abstract Interest in the induction and measurement of positive affective states in non-human animals is increasing. Here, we used a test of cognitive (judgement) bias, based on the finding that individuals experiencing different affective states judge ambiguous stimuli differently, to measure whether a positive low arousal affective state (e.g. ‘satisfaction’/‘contentment’) could be induced in domestic dogs as a result of their experiencing a food-based rewarding event. In this rewarding event, ...
Published on Apr 15, 2011in PLOS ONE 2.78
Daniel Mills29
Estimated H-index: 29
(University of Lincoln),
Se Redgate4
Estimated H-index: 4
(University of Lincoln),
Gary M. Landsberg1
Estimated H-index: 1
Feline urine spraying inside the home is a common problem behaviour that owners seek advice for from veterinarians. Individual trials relating to a variety of interventions produce variable results, and to date, no consensus on the value of different treatments has emerged. This study therefore aimed to meta-analyse, current data from appropriate published clinical trials that evaluate treatments for feline urine spraying. Inclusion and exclusion criteria for study selection were predefined and ...
Published on Nov 1, 2010in Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 0.43
Meghan E. Herron4
Estimated H-index: 4
(OSU: Ohio State University)
Feline inappropriate elimination is the number one behavioral reason for relinquishment of cats to shelters and has historically been the most commonly reported feline problem addressed by behavior professionals. Veterinarians are hence challenged to uncover the underlying motivation for this behavior so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and an effective treatment plan implemented. Before a behavioral diagnosis can be made, underlying medical disease must be addressed, making a comprehensiv...
Published on Jan 1, 2008
Linda J. Keeling34
Estimated H-index: 34
,
Bo Algers29
Estimated H-index: 29
+ 7 AuthorsAdroaldo J. Zanella25
Estimated H-index: 25
Published on Feb 1, 2007in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 1.58
Nicole Cottam7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Tufts University),
Nicholas H. Dodman24
Estimated H-index: 24
(Tufts University)
Decreasing litter box odor may be an important treatment component in addressing feline inappropriate elimination. A three-phase study was conducted to determine if the use of Zero Odor litter box spray increases the preference of litter boxes to cats, presumably by its odor-eliminating quality. In the first phase, cats were given a litter box preference test between a litter box sprayed with Zero Odor and one without. In the second phase, the number of occurrences of behaviors indicative of a c...
Published on Feb 1, 2004in Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 1.58
Jacqui Neilson3
Estimated H-index: 3
Feline elimination problems are the leading behavioral complaint of cat owners. When presented with a feline elimination problem there are three main diagnostic categories: medical problems, marking or toileting problems. It isimportant to first perform diagnostic tests to rule out and/or address underlying medical issues and all feline housesoiling patients should receive a comprehensive physical examination. When the elimination problem persists after a medical problem has either been ruled ou...
Cited By1
Newest
Published on Jul 2, 2018in Companion Animal
Two behavioural case studies are presented related to house soiling by cats. Similarities and differences in presenting signs are discussed, as well as contrasts in required treatment according to the individual emotional and motivational states of the cats. These cases highlight the importance of caregivers or health professionals consulting with clinical animal behaviour experts, and the complexities that each case presents.