BRISBANE, Australia, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Allowing cats to hide may play an important role in having them relax, a University of Queensland researcher suggests.
Honors student Mark Owens’ project focuses on the behavior and welfare of domestic cats in shelters.
Working in the Centre of Animal Welfare and Ethics, Owens studied 37 cats over seven days for their behaviors and emotions, which indicate if they are feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated or content.
“Welfare is a major issue in many countries for animals that are kept in cages, shelters and captive environments like zoos,” Owens says in a statement.
Half of the cats Owens is observing are provided with a hiding box, and the remaining cats are in open view.
“A big part of my research is whether hiding provides a certain type of enrichment for cats in stressful situations,” Owens says. “Unfortunately I am not sitting in a room playing and watching cats, I have prerecorded the cats for 24 hours over seven days, and have just finished coding their behaviors on the videos.”
A cat’s position in the cage, its posture and certain escape behaviors are all observations that contribute to identifying its emotions, stress levels and ability to adapt to their environment, Owens says.