Does clicker training reduce stress in shelter cats?

  • Saskia Travers University of Surrey

Published:

2022-11-18

Share
Open Access Logo

DOI

https://doi.org/10.18849/ve.v7i4.484

Abstract

PICO question

In domestic cats in a shelter setting, does clicker training decrease proxy measures of a stressed emotional state (behavioural or physiological) compared to no clicker training?

 

Clinical bottom line

Category of research question

Treatment

The number and type of study designs reviewed

Two papers were critically reviewed. One was a prospective quasi-randomised clinical trial, the other was a quasi-experimental before-and-after study with each cat being its own control

Strength of evidence

Weak

Outcomes reported

Both papers reported a decrease in behavioural stress indicators in shelter cats following a clicker training programme. Not all of these decreases were statistically significant and there are large issues with confounding factors in both papers

Conclusion

Preliminary evidence suggests that clicker training can be implemented as one form of enrichment to reduce stress in shelter cats alongside other means. Further evidence is required to demonstrate superiority to other forms of enrichment to reduce stress in shelter cats, especially given the practical limitations of implementing such a programme in most shelters

 

How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.

References

Arhant, C. & Troxler, J. (2017). Is there a relationship between attitudes of shelter staff to cats and the cats’ approach behaviour? Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 187, 60–68. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.11.014

Bollen, K. (2015). Training and behavior modification for shelter cats in Weiss, E. (ed.); Mohan-Gibbons, H. (ed.); Zawistowski, S. (ed.) Animal Behavior for Shelter Veterinarians and Staff. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 250–266.

Caeiro, C.C., Burrows, A.M. & Waller, B.M. (2017). Development and application of CatFACS: Are human cat adopters influenced by cat facial expressions? Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 189, 66–78. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.01.005

Cox, D.R. (1972) Regression Models and Life-Tables. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Methodological). 34(2), 187-202. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2517-6161.1972.tb00899.x

Ellis, S.L.H. (2009). Environmental Enrichment: Practical Strategies for Improving Feline Welfare. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 11(11), 901-912. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.jfms.2009.09.011

Fantuzzi, J.M., Miller, K.A. & Weiss, E. (2010). Factors Relevant to Adoption of Cats in an Animal Shelter. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 13(2), 174–179. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10888700903583467

Goodacre, S. (2015). Uncontrolled before-after studies: discouraged by Cochrane and the EMJ. Emergency Medicine Journal. 32(7), 507–508. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/emermed-2015-204761

Gourkow, N. (2001). Factors Affecting the Welfare and Adoption Rate of Cats in an Animal Shelter. Master’s thesis, University of British Columbia. [online] Available at: https://spca.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/factors_affecting_the_welfare_and_adoption_rate_of_cats_in_an_animal_shelter.pdf (Accessed: 03 Jan 2021).

Gourkow, N., LaVoy, A., Dean, G.A. & Phillips, C.J.C. (2014a). Associations of behaviour with secretory immunoglobulin A and cortisol in domestic cats during their first week in an animal shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 150, 55–64. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2013.11.006

Gourkow, N., Hamon, S.C. & Phillips, C.J.C. (2014b). Effect of gentle stroking and vocalization on behaviour, mucosal immunity and upper respiratory disease in anxious shelter cats. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 117(1), 266–275. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2014.06.005

Gourkow, N. & Phillips, C.J.C. (2015). Effect of interactions with humans on behaviour, mucosal immunity and upper respiratory disease of shelter cats rated as contented on arrival. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 121(3–4), 288–296. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2015.07.013

Gourkow, N. & Phillips, C.J.C. (2016). Effect of cognitive enrichment on behavior, mucosal immunity and upper respiratory disease of shelter cats rated as frustrated on arrival. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 131, 103–110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2016.07.012

Grant, R.A. & Warrior, J.R. (2019). Clicker training increases exploratory behaviour and time spent at the front of the enclosure in shelter cats; Implications for welfare and adoption rates. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 211, 77–83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.12.002

Harris, A.D., McGregor, J.C., Perencevich, E.N., Furono, J.P., Zhu, J., Peterson, D.E. & Finkelstein, J. (2006). The Use and Interpretation of Quasi-Experimental Studies in Medical Informatics. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 13(1), 16–23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1197/jamia.M1749

Kogan, L., Kolus, C., Schoenfeld-Tacher, R. (2017). Assessment of Clicker Training for Shelter Cats. Animals. 7(1), 73. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.3390%2Fani7100073

Morrison, M. (2010). McNemar's test. In N. J. Salkind (Ed.); Encyclopedia of research design (780-782). SAGE Publications, Inc. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412961288.n235

Sinn, L. (2016). Factors affecting the selection of cats by adopters. Journal of Veterinary Behavior. 14, 5–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2016.06.00

Stanton, L.A., Sullivan, M.S. & Fazio, J.M. (2015). A standardized ethogram for the felidae: A tool for behavioral researchers. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 173, 3–16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2015.04.001

453

Save

1,041

View

Vol. 7 No. 4 (2022): The fourth issue of 2022

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /