Kitten owners across the UK are being asked to take part in the first study of its kind to investigate cat health, welfare and behaviour, led by academics at the University of Bristol’s department of clinical veterinary science.

Kitten owners across the UK are being asked to take part in a study investigating cat health, welfare and behaviour. The Bristol Cats study was launched in Bristol last year and, due to its success, the study is being extended to include all kitten owners in the UK.

Kittens in crateBristol Cats is led by academics at the University of Bristol’s department of clinical veterinary science and is being carried out because little is known about the causes of common behaviour patterns and diseases of cats, such as, obesity, aggression towards people, spraying and lower urinary tract problems. 

The researchers wish to recruit 900 people who own a kitten aged between eight and 16 weeks by the end of December 2011.

The results of the study will be used to help improve the health and welfare of cats in the future, in the same way that the university’s Children of the 90s study, a long-term health research project that has followed the health and development of 14,000 children since 1991, helped in the knowledge of childhood diseases.

Kitten owners, who are over 18 years of age, complete 4 online or postal questionnaires, initially when their kittens are eight to 16 weeks, then again at six, 12, and 18 months of age. These questionnaires provide the researchers with valuable data, which can then be analysed to see how certain characteristics or conditions are associated with the cat’s management and other factors.

Jane Murray, Cats Protection lecturer in feline epidemiology at the University of Bristol, said: “We hope kitten owners across the UK will consider participating in the first cat study of its kind. 

“The study aims to provide guidance to practitioners and owners to improve the health and welfare of cats. If we can secure further funding we plan to extend the research to a lifetime study of cats that will make a difference to the lives of cats in the future.” 

Details about the study, including access to online questionnaires and results, are available at www.vetschool.bris.ac.uk/cats. Participation in the study is voluntary and owners have the right to withdraw from the study at any point.

Bristol Cats was launched in the Bristol area on June 1, 2010. 145 kittens were registered with the study during 2010. 

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