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  • Author or Editor: Sharon L. Crowell-Davis x
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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To investigate the relationship of litter box location as it relates to cats' use of space in the house, elimination problems, and certain behaviors associated with elimination.

Sample Population—40 cats in single-cat house-holds with or without elimination behavior problems (20 cats/group).

Procedures—Camcorders were used to record the cats' behaviors at the litter box and other areas in which they eliminated during a 72-hour period. Use of space in the house was recorded by direct observation during 400 minutes of the 72-hour period. Elimination behaviors and other cat- and litter box–associated variables were compared between groups; litter box location with respect to inappropriate elimination was assessed.

Results—Litter box location did not differ between cats with and without elimination behavior problems. An inverse correlation was found between time spent sniffing and the distance of the litter box from the central core area. Cats with elimination problems spent significantly less time digging at the litter box than cats without elimination problems. There was no significant difference in the time spent pawing in litter box, sniffing, or covering excreta after elimination between the 2 groups of cats.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Times spent digging in litter boxes by cats with and without elimination problems have been determined, and data suggest that actual digging times could be used as a means to test for litter preference and litter aversion. This information may also be used to identify cats with litter aversion prior to the development of an elimination problem.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether the direction of dominance as determined by agonistic interactions away from food was different from the direction of dominance as determined by access to a resource in cats.

Animals—28 cats.

Procedure—Dyadic relationships and hierarchy formed from observation of agonistic interactions away from food were compared with those formed from interactions at the food bowl. A cat was scored as subordinate to another cat if it lost 3 of 3 interactions or lost ≥ 75% of the interactions when > 3 interactions occurred.

Results—Cats were observed for 449.4 hours. Hierarchy rank determined by agonistic interactions away from food was significantly correlated with rank determined by interactions at the food bowl. In 27 of 31 dyads, the direction of dominance was the same for food bowl and agonistic relationships, which was significant. In post hoc analyses, when considering the relationship between 2 cats, the heavier cat most likely ranked higher in each hierarchy; however, age was not significantly correlated with either hierarchy. On the basis of dyadic information, the older cat in a dyad was more often dominant in agonistic interactions. Males had a higher mean dominance rank than females; however, sex had no effect on rank determined by interactions at the food bowl.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Factors influencing dominant-subordinate relationships are of interest for understanding and treating behavior problems such as aggression and resource control. The outcome of agonistic interactions away from food was related to, but not perfectly correlated with, the outcome of interactions at the food bowl, although winners of those agonistic interactions tended to have control of food. (Am J Vet Res 2004;65:1548–1556)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate associations between relatedness and familiarity with the affiliative behaviors of maintaining proximity and allogrooming in cats.

Animals—28 privately owned cats in 1 colony.

Procedure—15 of the cats had 1 or more relatives present representing 5 genealogies. Each cat was observed in 15-minute intervals for 3.5 hours during the study. All occurrences of allogrooming behavior were recorded. At the onset of each 15-minute observation period and at 2- minute intervals thereafter, the identity and location of all cats within 1 m of the observed cat were recorded.

Results—Relatedness and familiarity was significantly associated with the number of times a cat was within 1 m of another cat and how often a cat was groomed. For relatives and nonrelatives that were equally familiar to a given cat, relatives were significantly more likely to be within 1 m and to be groomed.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Familiarity and relatedness are significantly associated with allogrooming and proximity of another cat. This may be important when considering adoption of 1 or more kittens and when adding a new cat to a household in which other cats are present. Adopting small family groups may result in higher rates of affiliative behavior, stronger bonding, and lower incidence of conflict than periodically adopting single unrelated adult cats. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:1151–1154)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To identify factors (eg, familiarity, sex, neutering status, and time of year) associated with aggression between domestic ferrets and test a method for reducing aggression when introducing ferrets.

Design—Prospective trial.

Animals—56 healthy domestic ferrets.

Procedure—To identify variables associated with aggression, pairs were placed in an enclosed area and observed. To test whether increasing familiarity would decrease aggression when introducing ferrets, pairs of ferrets were housed in separate cages next to each other or in separate rooms for 2 weeks prior to introduction.

Results—49 of 82 pairs of strangers fought, but 31 cage mate pairs did not. Time of year had no apparent effect. Pairs consisting of 2 neutered females or 2 sexually intact males were significantly more likely to fight than were pairs consisting of a neutered female and a sexually intact male. Pairs caged next to each other for 2 weeks prior to introduction were no less likely to fight than were control pairs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that familiarity, sex, and neutering status are important determinants of aggression between ferrets. If unfamiliar neutered ferrets are introduced, then pairing 2 males or a male and female would likely result in the lowest levels of aggression. However, neutered females and sexually intact males are not indiscriminately aggressive, as a neutered female can be paired with a sexually intact male without resulting in aggression. Caging ferrets next to each other for 2 weeks does not decrease aggression when the ferrets are introduced. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:1709–1712)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs.

Design—Prospective open clinical trial.

Animals—40 dogs with storm phobia.

Procedure—Dogs received clomipramine at a dosage of 2 mg/kg (0.9 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 3 months; then 1 mg/kg (0.45 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 2 weeks; then 0.5 mg/kg (0.23 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 2 weeks. Alprazolam was given at a dosage of 0.02 mg/kg (0.009 mg/lb), PO, as needed 1 hour before anticipated storms and every 4 hours as needed. Desensitization and counter-conditioning were conducted at home by the caregiver with an audio simulation of storm sounds that had induced a fear response during evaluation.

Results—30 of the 32 dogs that completed the study had a degree of improvement, as measured by caregivers' global assessment. Two caregivers considered the storm phobia to be resolved. Panting, pacing, trembling, remaining near the caregiver, hiding, excessive salivation, destructiveness, excessive vocalization, self-trauma, and inappropriate elimination all decreased significantly during treatment. Improvement was greater during true storms (rain, thunder, and lightning) than during rain only. Response to audio simulation did not change during treatment. Four months after the study, improvement was maintained.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The combination of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification can be effective in decreasing or eliminating storm phobia. Improvement could not be evaluated by use of audio simulation of a storm. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003; 222:744–748)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the presence of a dominance rank in a group of cats and the relation between agonistic behavior and the use of resources, including environmental enrichment, in these cats.

Design—Observational analytic study.

Animals—27 neutered cats in a shelter in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Procedures—The cats were video recorded for 4 consecutive days to obtain baseline data. Subsequently, a puzzle feeder was added as an enrichment device every other day over 8 days, for a total of 4 days with enrichment. Cats were also video recorded on these days. All pretreatment and posttreatment agonistic behaviors and interactions with the puzzle feeder were recorded by reviewing the videotapes.

Results—143 agonistic encounters were recorded, of which 44 were related to resources and 99 were not. There were insufficient agonistic interactions to determine a dominance rank. Presence or absence of the puzzle feeder did not affect the rate of aggression. There was no significant effect of weight, sex, or coat color on the rate of aggression, and aggressive behavior did not correlate with time spent with the puzzle feeder. Twenty-three of the 27 cats interacted with the puzzle feeder.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In a stable group of communally housed cats, environmental enrichment did not cause increased aggression as a result of competition for the source of enrichment. Because environmental enrichment increases the opportunity to perform exploratory behaviors, it may improve the welfare of groups of cats maintained long-term in shelters, sanctuaries, or multicat households.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine the optimal dosage of clomipramine for the treatment of urine spraying in cats.

Design—Randomized controlled multicenter clinical trial.

Animals—67 neutered cats.

Procedure—Cats with a minimum 1-month history of spraying urine against vertical surfaces at least twice per week were randomly assigned to be treated with a placebo or with clomipramine at a dosage of 0.125 to 0.25 mg/kg (0.057 to 0.11 mg/lb), 0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg (0.11 to 0.23 mg/lb), or 0.5 to 1 mg/kg (0.23 to 0.45 mg/lb), PO, every 24 hours for up to 12 weeks. Owners of all cats were given information on behavioral treatment and environmental modification.

Results—Prior to treatment, mean number of urine spraying events ranged from 0.9 to 1.3 urine spraying events/d for the 4 groups, and mean percentage of days with urine spraying events ranged from 62% to 69%. All 3 dosages of clomipramine were associated with significant reductions in frequency of urine spraying. Sedation was the most common adverse effect and was identified in 27 of the 50 cats treated with clomipramine; however, treatment was not discontinued in any cat because of sedation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggest that compared with a placebo, clomipramine significantly reduces the frequency of urine spraying in cats in terms of the number of urine spraying events per day and the number of days with urine spraying events. For cats with urine spraying, the recommended initial dosage of clomipramine is 0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg, PO, every 24 hours. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:881–887)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association