Prevalence of house soiling and aggression in kittens during the first year after adoption from a humane society

John C. Wright Department of Psychology, Mercer University, Macon, GA 31207.

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Richard T. Amoss Department of Psychology, Mercer University, Macon, GA 31207.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine frequency of house soiling, aggression toward people, and aggression toward other cats among kittens adopted from an animal shelter and whether frequency of these behaviors was associated with age at the time of neutering.

Design—Survey.

Animals—126 kittens adopted from a humane society at 6 to 13 weeks of age.

Procedure—Owners of the kittens were contacted by telephone approximately 4, 18, and 52 weeks after kittens were adopted, and a behavioral assessment questionnaire was administered. Owners were asked to indicate whether the kitten had displayed the specific behavior in the preceding 30 days. Sixty-three kittens were neutered prior to adoption; the remaining 63 were neutered at 5 to 7 months of age, after the second behavioral assessment.

Results—In the month following adoption, 64 (50.8%) kittens were reported to have at least 1 of the 3 behaviors. There was no evidence that the 3 behaviors were related. The percentage of kittens reported to urinate or defecate outside the litter box decreased from the first to second evaluation and remained low at the third evaluation. The percentage of kittens reported to show aggression toward people and the percentage reported to show aggression toward other cats decreased from the first to second evaluation, but increased again at the third evaluation. There was no significant association between age at the time of neutering and any of the 3 behaviors.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest behavior problems may be common in kittens adopted from a humane society, particularly during the first month after adoption. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:1790–1795)

Abstract

Objective—To determine frequency of house soiling, aggression toward people, and aggression toward other cats among kittens adopted from an animal shelter and whether frequency of these behaviors was associated with age at the time of neutering.

Design—Survey.

Animals—126 kittens adopted from a humane society at 6 to 13 weeks of age.

Procedure—Owners of the kittens were contacted by telephone approximately 4, 18, and 52 weeks after kittens were adopted, and a behavioral assessment questionnaire was administered. Owners were asked to indicate whether the kitten had displayed the specific behavior in the preceding 30 days. Sixty-three kittens were neutered prior to adoption; the remaining 63 were neutered at 5 to 7 months of age, after the second behavioral assessment.

Results—In the month following adoption, 64 (50.8%) kittens were reported to have at least 1 of the 3 behaviors. There was no evidence that the 3 behaviors were related. The percentage of kittens reported to urinate or defecate outside the litter box decreased from the first to second evaluation and remained low at the third evaluation. The percentage of kittens reported to show aggression toward people and the percentage reported to show aggression toward other cats decreased from the first to second evaluation, but increased again at the third evaluation. There was no significant association between age at the time of neutering and any of the 3 behaviors.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest behavior problems may be common in kittens adopted from a humane society, particularly during the first month after adoption. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:1790–1795)

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