A cat's game of hide and seek

August 2, 2011, University of Queensland
Honors student Mark Owens is researching the role of hiding in relaxing cats

Hiding may play an important role in relaxing cats according to University of Queensland honours student Mark Owens.

Working in the Center of and Ethics (CAWE), Mr Owens' project focuses on the behaviour and welfare of in shelters.

“Welfare is a major issue in many countries for animals that are kept in cages, shelters and captive environments like zoos,” Mr. Owens said.

The study looks at cats' behaviors and emotions, which indicate if they are feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated or content and examines 37 cats over seven days.

Half of the cats Mr. Owens is observing are provided with a hiding box, and the remaining cats are in open view.

“A big part of my research is whether hiding provides a certain type of enrichment for cats in stressful situations,” Mr Owens said.

“Unfortunately I am not sitting in a room playing and watching cats, I have pre-recorded the cats for 24 hours over seven days, and have just finished coding their behaviors on the videos,” he said.

A cat's position in the cage, its posture and certain escape behaviours are all observations that contribute to identifying their emotions, stress levels and ability to adapt to their environment.

“I chose to do this project because I am very interested in the behavior of domestic animals," Mr. Owens said.

"I hope my research will benefit animal shelters, and will allow them to recognise stressful behaviours in cats and ways to decrease these kinds of behaviors,” he said.

The study continues on from preliminary research in Canada where over three days, 39 , which were housed in a shelter, showed significant behavioral and emotional changes.

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3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 02, 2011
Thot I'd read an article on cat behavior, instead I got an article on animal research student behavior.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
I'd disagree. Keeping your pet (or exhibit) happy is important over the long haul. Any cat owner will tell you that the critter likes to disappear for a while now and again, this puts it into context.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
Must have something to do with superposition. Or cheeseburgers?
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
I agree with the first comment, I expected to see an article on the research, not the researcher.
4 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2011
Who does his hair? It's beautiful!
Look at that beautiful man with the cats.

He seems like he knows what he is doing since he is an "honors student". The research may not be for a thesis, but who cares...maybe it's for a science fair.
Anyway, at least the research is very timely and will have an impact on the course of humanity.

I hope they publish my work soon. I'm painting my turtle's shell pink to see if it smiles more.
3 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2011
We put a small 'dog kennel' in our garden, raised six inches on bricks, for the benefit of our cats. They take turns in there, 'lurking', just watching the world go by...

I suppose they consider it 'private time'.
1 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
at least he is doing something other than using the anonymity of the web to make smart ass remarks about someone he really knows nothing about.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2011
Cute. The kitty, too.
Of course, like everyone I know, the cats are meditating.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2011
Yeah the kitteh are just playing along in the hope of cheezburger rewardz
1 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2011
I agree with the first comment, I expected to see an article on the research, not the researcher.

You mean when you watch a car makeover you would rather see the car than the people? Or when you watch a bike building show you want to see the motorcycle instead of just the people? Or a food show you want to see the food preparation instead of the people? Or when you watch the ghosthunters you want to see a ghost instead of the people (what was that? Did you hear that?) What's wrong with you?

bumper sticker: "I like cats, dead ones."

And I like people with that bumper sticker, dead ones.

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