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Can you handle it?

Moody C, Picketts VA, et al. Can you handle it? Validating negative responses to restraint in cats. Application Anim Behav Sci. 204 (2018) 94-100.

Many cats don’t like the annual trip to their veterinarian, in part because of the handling and restraint that they undergo. Some methods of restraint cause stress and may negatively impact the welfare of the cat.

These investigators examined and measured the degree of negative impact various levels of restraint had on cats. They compared passive restraint to full-body restraint during a physical exam. As the cats were restrained, behavioral and physiologic responses were recorded. This was done as they were put into restraint, during the restraint, and afterwards. Not surprisingly, cats were far more (8X) likely to struggle with full body restraint.

During the examination, full body restraint led to more breaths and more licking of lips per minute, and were more likely to hold hears flat or back than passively restrained cats. The amount of pupil dilation seemed to vary more with the friendliness of the cats. That is, the friendlier cats restrained with full body restraint had less pupillary dilation, indicating fear, than less friendly cats.

After restraint was released, those in full body restraint were much more (6X) likely to leave the exam table. This study validated the negative responses of more rigorous restraint vs passive restraint in cats and how this may adversely affect the cats’ welfare. (MK)

See also:

Lloyd JFK. Minimising stress for patients in the veterinary hospital: Why It Is important and what can be done about It. Vet Sci. Apr 13;4(2).