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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2016, Article ID 6296315, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/6296315
Review Article

Environmental Aspects of Domestic Cat Care and Management: Implications for Cat Welfare

Center for Animal Welfare Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

Received 30 May 2016; Accepted 6 September 2016

Academic Editor: Maria R. C. De Godoy

Copyright © 2016 Judith L. Stella and Candace C. Croney. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) are the most commonly kept companion animals in the US with large populations of owned (86 million), free-roaming (70 million), research (13,000), and shelter (2-3 million) cats. Vast numbers of cats are maintained in homes and other facilities each year and are reliant on humans for all of their care. Understanding cat behavior and providing the highest quality environments possible, including positive human-cat interactions, based on research could help improve the outcomes of biomedical research, shelter adoptions, and veterinary care, as well as overall cat welfare. Often, however, cats’ needs are inadequately met in homes and some aspects may also not be well met in research colonies and shelters, despite the fact that similar problems are likely to be encountered in all of these environments. This paper provides a brief overview of common welfare challenges associated with indoor housing of domestic cats. Essential considerations for cage confinement are reviewed, along with implications of poor cat coping, such as weakening of the human-animal bond and relinquishment to shelters. The important role that environmental management plays in cat behavior and welfare outcomes is explored along with the need for additional research in key areas.