Studies have found inconsistencies in the models and perceptions of behaviour traits used in rehoming cats.
The research by Lauren Finka, a behaviour consultant to major cat charities and rehoming centres, was part-funded by the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE), as part of her PhD studies.
She developed a more robust way of monitoring cat behaviour, which has important implications in making the ideal choice of new home for each cat.
One of the most common behaviours associated with affection towards humans is the activity of rubbing. Initial results suggested this was often very inconsistent, as were several other behaviours previously thought to be important in assessing a cat’s underlying temperament.
Dr Finka’s study showed it depends much more on the specifics of the physical and social context of interactions, and these might change on a daily basis. For example, it was found on one day a cat might rub against a person 10 times, but the next day rub against the same person only once.
The Lincoln Cat Assessment Tool (L-CAT) was developed during the research to offer a way of assessing behaviour in cats at rehoming centres and predicting new owner satisfaction based on those assessments.
Cats can be rapidly assessed, optimally managed and suitably matched with would-be owners, shortening the length of time they might spend in the rehoming centre.
Using this information, L-CAT was tested to establish the possibility of predicting the future behaviour of cats after they had been adopted, as well as gauging how satisfied owners were likely to be with their cats.
The results generally confirmed these outcomes were possible, meaning rehoming staff could also use L-CAT to help manage the expectations of owners and potentially improve their satisfaction.
COAPE congratulated Dr Finka on the award of her PhD and said it was delighted to have co-sponsored her in producing such a beneficial and useful study in promoting the well-being of rescue cats.