4-year PhD Studentship: Cats’ perspective and welfare associated with outdoor access
Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol
Bristol, United Kingdom
Although freedom of movement is a key pillar of animal welfare, and outdoor access is considered the best way to allow cats to exercise and express natural behaviours, restrictions often apply to owned cats. People may be reluctant to let their cat out for a variety of reasons including increased risk of disease, injury, or loss. Cats’ toll on biodiversity due to predation is also of growing concern, although other factors are likely responsible for the decline of most bird species. Although cats’ behaviour and people’s attitude to letting cats go out have been extensively studied, whether/how much cats care and the welfare consequences of limiting outdoor access have been poorly studied. This project seeks to add the cats’ perspective to this controversial topic. Cats’ preference, and motivation to access the outside will be assessed in a population of owned domestic cats. In addition, the consequences of outdoor access deprivation on cats’ mood will be assessed using judgment bias tests. This project will provide valuable information on whether cats’ welfare is dependent on outdoor access. This will help cat owners make informed decisions regarding their cats’ welfare and balance this with health/safety concerns and impacts on biodiversity.
Supervisors: Emily Balckwell (primary supervisor), Benjamin Lecorps