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How space affect behavior in large groups of cats kept indoors

Loberg JM, Lundmark F. The effect of space on behaviour in large groups of domestic cats kept indoors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science.182 (2016) 23–29.

Even though cats originate from the solitary African Wild Cat, domesticated cats have become more social, and group housing is common. There is some concern that keeping cats together in a small space could lead to conflicts and social stress.

These investigators examined the behavior of cats in large groups of cats. They examined the social and spacial behavior in the large groups, as well as stress related body postures (using the Cat-Stress-Score). They found that increasing the space per cat from 1 m2 to 4 m2 increases the play behavior. The amount of licking and body contact between cats and overall activity increases when the space per cat is increased to 4 m2.

The investigators state, “ Play has been used as an indicator of positive welfare in other species, and licking and body contact can indicate positive contact between individuals, we therefore argue that the increase in space given to these cats slightly increased their welfare. However, further studies are needed on the effect of space and density of cats when housed together in group.”  (MK)

Vinke CM, Godijn LM, et al. Will a hiding box provide stress reduction for shelter cats? Applied Animal Behavior Science. Vol 160, Nov 2014, 86-93.