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Keeping Cats Happy in Confined Environments

Special Study submission for the Diploma of Kennel Management Anna Lobacheva 2014


Cats are unique creatures and have lived with people for thousands of years. Cats’ domestication had approximately started in Egypt about 4000 YA. Egyptian paintings and sculptures dating from about 3600 YA provide the evidence that cats already participated in many of man’s activities. Bradshaw (2013) provides us information that ‘the economy of Egypt was, at that time, largely based on grain and cats helped to save the harvests by hunting and feeding the granivorous rodents’. As a result they came to play a part of the Egyptian pantheistic religions and even were mummified par with the pharaohs and other great men of that time. Domestic cats had reach India by about 2200YA and later spread to the Far East. A second population was growing in Northern Europe, where they were brought by Vikings 1200-1100 YA and then where transferred to countries colonized by England, Portugal and other seafaring nations. In modern times cats still very popular in many countries. For example in USA there are about 36 million of cats, in UK the figure is 8.5 million and totally in whole Europe is about 64 million of cats. Statistics is provided by

http://www.ifaheurope.org

By the UK Governments statistics data, the visits abroad by UK residents in 2013 has increased by 6.9% to 20.6 million compare with the same period of time in 2012. The number of nights spent abroad, by UK residents, also increased by 9.2%. As we can see, people travel more and as a result, they are more likely to use the catteries and pet sitter’s services to be sure that their pets are looked after, happy and safe. Cats are physically and mentally completely different from the dogs and they are more attached to place than to people and as a result, change of the environment usually causes much stress to the animal. To reduce these negative factors, the cattery owner should understand the


particular qualities of the cats’ behavior and organize the place according the cats’ needs and the cat owner expectations. During the course we more focused on the kennel’s particularities and that’s why I have decided to do this assignment about the catteries and the components of the cats’ welfare and analyse how to make cats’ life happy and healthy, when they are far from their homes and beloved owners. Cats’ personalities and a cattery This is not a secret that each cat has its own individuality or personalities, even all of them have some similarities they are so different from one another. Turner and Bateson (2000) give us a definition of individuality as a ‘descriptive labels for the complex mental pictures which people have of individual animals’. By the Yams.co.uk definition, the main cat’s personalities follow:  They are nocturnal and capable of detecting motion in minimal lighting.  They are instinctually territorial and marking its territory by putting its scent on surroundings.  They are independent and can easily entertain themselves for hours.  They have strong hunting instincts. From this perspective Key (2006) suggests that the quality of the environment for cats is so important. They need to have access to outdoor or as a minimum requirement access to the windows to let them use their natural instincts of observation. They spend a lot of time observing the outside environment while sitting on the windowsills and climbing platforms places near windows. Scratching is a ‘result in the deposition of scent from glands on the paws’ (Turner and Bateson, 2000) and gives a signals to other cats as well as keep claws in a good shape’ (Key, 2006). They also like exploring, so it is absolutely necessary to have some boxes and toys in each cats chalet. And additionally, even cats are independent animals, they need to be in a contact with a human being, get their portion of stroking and attention. ‘Cats are more likely to respond to poor housing by becoming inactive and by not showing normal behaviors’ (Key, 2006). Cats welfare Rochlitz (2005) gives us three different prospective of understanding the term ‘animal welfare.’ First one is from the prospective of ‘biological functioning’ and animal’s health. Second one is how close the animal can perform behaviors that are natural. And final one, the animal’s


feelings and emotions and animal’ mental health. And this is obvious that conditions, where the house cat is kept will have direct influence on its welfare. So, the cats’ paradise is when they are safe and warm, have plenty of attention, have things to watch and do, a variety of different beds and places to sit or rest, plenty space and freedom to move around, be able to jump or climb, have a music background, calm surrounding, games involving something to catch or chase and of cause lots of love (Key, 2006). Key (2006) also provides us the list of the main requirements, which should be followed by the cattery owner to be sure, that cats are kept according their needs: -

adequate and nutritious supplies of food and water are available; safe, warm, dry and stimulating environment; protect from extremes of climate; provide health and veterinary care when required; allow the cat to display normal behavior and make choices; freedom from emotional and physical distress.

Cats do not like unpredictability such as irregular contact with unfamiliar cats or humans, so any contacts with their neighbors should be avoided. Usually, cats keep the distance between themselves of 1-3 meters (Rochlitz, 2005), so each chalet should be big enough (minimum 1.8m *91cm*1.22m), to give opportunity for cats to keep this distance and ‘the minimum exercise zone should be at least 1.7m2’ The minimum size requirements by CIEH: Number of cats 1 2 3

Size of sleeping area 0.85m2 1.5m2 1.85m2

Size of exercise area 1.7m2 2.23m2 2.7m2 Key (2006)

(Cavill, 2008). Cats like climbing and jumping and do not really like to be on a floor, so inside the chalet should be a vertical dimension, such as shelves, climbing posts and platforms. Because most of the day time they spend having a rest and sleeping, the rest area should be soft and comfortable. Because cats usually do not have access to the outdoor, they should have access to enclosed outdoor runs or as an absolutely minimum requirement, have a window.

Another important component of cats’ welfare is a feeding which has a major impact on the cats’ health. The ideal situation, when the cattery could continue to feed a cat by the same food, which it had at home, but unfortunately it is not financially possible to have a full stock of cats’ food, which is available on a market. If a cat is sensitive for food change, maybe will be a good idea to ask the owner provide the food, which the cat usually has at home.


But the basics of the nutritional requirements of the cat shows some striking differences from other domestic animals. Some of these special nutrients that are required by the cat are found normally in animal products but not in plants. These include arachidonate, taurine, and preformed vitamin A (i.e., carotene cannot be utilized). Differences in enzyme activities result in absolute requirements for niacin and arginine, and in a higher requirement for protein. Additionally, the texture of the food is important. The cat generally prefers solid, moist foods to dry, powdery foods. Nevertheless, when started at a young age, kittens can be trained to eat a wide variety of textures and flavours. Thus, adequate acceptable diets can be prepared from natural foodstuffs (using both animal and plant products) as is common for commercial cat foods. Also, diets that are both nutritionally adequate and acceptable can be prepared from purified carbohydrates, fats, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals (purified diets). It is especially important to understand the regulatory capacities of domestic pets such as cats, as the diet of the animal is largely determined by the carer. Providing inappropriate diet compositions has implications for animal health and welfare, and potentially also for urban ecology through pets supplementing their diet from nature. Most domestic cats are fed commercial pet foods by their owners. Some of these products are moist and others are based on a dry formulation. As well as differing in water content and texture, there are macro nutritional differences between wet and dry commercial foods, notably a higher carbohydrate content of dry foods (required for their manufacture). Carbohydrate No known dietary carbohydrate requirement exists for the cat, dry commercial diets usually contain 40 % or more carbohydrate. Based on research with other animals, it is probable that cats can be maintained without dietary carbohydrate of the diet furnishes sufficient fat (and thus glycerol) and protein (containing glycogenic amino acid) from which metabolic requirements for glucose can be derived. Experiments show that the cats regulated a macronutrient balance low in carbohydrate and with an intermediate protein-fat balance. Comparison of nutrient intakes further reveals that the experienced simultaneous self-selectors selected a diet with a higher proteincarbohydrate balance than the naive cats. ‘Cats in normal health should be fed twice daily, but much more care is needed in planning their diets as they tend to suffer more from stress’ (Cavill, 2008). Based on a maintenance energy requirement for adult cats of 77.6 kcal/kg (Bermingham et al.,2010), which equates to ~1017kJ day for a 5 kg cat, it can be seen that consumption of dry diet resulted in deficits of both energy and protein intake (relative to the target). The carbohydrate ceiling explains many of the intake patterns seen in both dry and wet diet experiments and suggests that cats may only be able to process ingested carbohydrate up to a certain level. Cats have a number of sensory and metabolic adaptations that reflect their expected low


carbohydrate intake (Eisert, 2011), including the absence of a functional sweet taste receptor (Li et al., 2005), low rates of intestinal glucose uptake (Buddington et al., 1991), a lack of salivary amylase and reduced activities (compared with dogs, for example) of pancreatic amylase and intestinal disaccharidases (Meyer and Kienzle, 1991). The reduced enzymatic capacity for digesting carbohydrate may mean that high carbohydrate intake could have untoward effects on cats, with any carbohydrate escaping digestion in the small intestine passing to the colon and providing substrate for microbial fermentation. Indeed, high carbohydrate intake in cats has been shown to increase the concentration of organic acids (i.e.end-products of microbial carbohydrate metabolism) in the colon and faeces and reduce faecal pH, indicating acidosis of the large bowel (Hewson-Hughes et al., 2010). Fat Dietary fat functions as a concentrated energy source, serves as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins, provides essential fatty acids, and influences diet acceptance by cat. Relatively high dietary fat concentrations, from both animal and plant sources, have been routinely used in feeding experiments with cats. Purified diets composed of 25 to 30 percent fat and 30 to 40 percent protein are commonly fed, whereas dry, commercial cat foods usually contain 8 to 12 percent fat. Generally, high-fat diets appear to be more palatable than low-fat diets. Protein Cats require protein in the diet to supply amino acids that cannot be synthesized at a rate commensurate with optimal performance and to supply nitrogen required for synthesis of dispensable amino acids and other nitrogenous compounds. The dietary requirements for protein varies with life stage but for adult cat is set at 26% (Rochlitz, 2005). Minerals The fact that cats are required minerals is indisputable. However, there is a scarcity of data on both the qualitative and quantitative requirements for this class of nutrients. Some minerals (calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and iodine) have been shown to be indispensable for the cat, while others (chlorine, manganese, sulfur, cobalt, selenium, molybdenum, fluorine, chromium, silicon, and perhaps tin, nickel, and vanadium) have been assumed essential by analogy with other species. The major obstacles in gathering such information have been the failure to develop a readily acceptable chemically defined diet suitable for the study of mineral requirements. Nevertheless, many researchers have successfully raised cats fed purified diets from which guidelines for mineral requirements may be extrapolated. Minerals are fundamental in maintaining acid-base balance, tissue structure, and osmotic pressure, as well as being essential components of many enzyme systems. Minerals exhibit numerous interrelationships, and thus proper balance is important in assessing the adequacy of minerals within a diet. In


addition, some minerals, while essential to health, may be detrimental if consumed in excess (Committee on Animal Nutrition, 1986). Taurine Cats have an absolute requirement for taurine. They are unable to manufacture sufficient taurine from the amino acids methionine and cysteine to meet their needs, due to reduced enzyme activity. Taurine is only naturally present in foods of animal origin and current recommended taurine levels in manufactured diets are 1500ppm in dry versus 2500ppm in canned food. Taurine deficiency can cause a variety of diseases: the most easily recognized are retinal degeneration and reproductive failure (Rochlitz, 2005). Arginine Cats also have a higher requirements for arginine, a key intermediate in the urea cycle, than many other species. Cats fed a diet without arginine became encephalopathic within hours. Under many circumstances, arginine become a conditional essential amino acid. Kittens require a minimum of 1.25% and adult cats 1.04% of arginine in their diet on a dry matter basis (Rochlitz, 2005). Additionally to the quality of food, the cattery owner should take in consideration the condition of storage facilities, where the food will be kept as it required by manufacture and the older stock should be used first. Problems caused by food Due to unique metabolism, there are a number of foods that should be minimized in a cat’s diet and should not be more than 10% of the dietary intake. Meat and Dairy product Cats are carnivores but cannot survive on just lean meat, which could lead to severe and potential fatal skeletal abnormalities, join malformations and a nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. Liver (and other organs) contains high level of vitamin A, leading to painful bone deformities. Milk products contain large quantities of fermentable sugars that require lactase for metabolism. Fish Raw fish can contain the enzyme thiaminase, which destroys the vitamin B1 and may also contains parasites. Cheap tinned fish can contain preformed histamine, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Environment


Additional factors, which are influence on a cats’ welfare are Temperature and Lighting. Key (2006) suggests providing a minimum temperature of 7C ̊, however the CIEH standard is between 10C ̊ and 26C ̊ To reach so and reduce the heating bills the walls should be well insulated, which provide necessary level of thermal comfort, as well as walls, floors and roof should provide resistance to excessive transfer of heat. Additionally, insulation materials will help to reduce the temperature during hot period. The UK Building regulations set maximum thermal resistance values: Walls Floors Roofs Windows and doors

0.35 W/m2 0.25 W/m2 0.20 W/m2 2.0 W/m2 Key (2006)

Talking about lighting, it always feels more comfortable and relaxed, when the room has lots of natural daylight and sunlight. Additionally, sunlight is also a natural killer of viruses and bacteria (Key, 2006). During the winter time, the light day is quite short, so it is necessary to provide internal light by using fluorescent tubes for instance. One more vary important factor is ventilation. The good ventilation system reach follow aims: -

removal and dilution of airborne animal diseases such as cat flu; reduction of carbon monoxide; removal of odours and smells.

The number of air changes per hour is the rate at which the air in the building expelled, and replaced with fresh air from outside and the general norm is 4-6 changes per hour. Additionally, the cattery owner should take in consideration a factor such as a condensation. If the cattery is wet or damp, it could provoke the propagation of viruses and germs. Risk of diseases None of pet owners will be happy if they would leave in a cattery a healthy animal, and at the end of the period of stay would get back a sick one. That is why the cattery staff should be especially careful and do everything possible to avoid diseases. Key (2006) provides us the factors, which could cause the risk of disease: -

large number of animals house in one area; dark, damp building; public access to all areas; poor qualities and unhygienic surface and finishes; stressed and bored animals, lack of environmental enrichment; poor cleaning regimes; poor staff management and control systems; draughty buildings; extreme temperatures.


To reduce such factors and avoid risks of diseases, the cattery owner should take in consideration follow: -

the cats should be kept happy and have lots of human contact; good management; buildings should have natural cross ventilation; animals should have access to natural daylight/sunlight; reduce the amount of shared air; provide a stimulation and healthy environment; quality finishes that allow the building to dry quickly; good staff awareness and training; provide public zones to restrict access to some areas; do not accept cats without all necessary vaccinations and checking the vet passport.

Daily cleaning and disinfections also help to protect the cattery’ boarders from infections. And one of the main rules should be that ‘cleaning comes before disinfecting, as dust and organic matter may render the disinfectant properties inactive’ (Cavill, 2008). Absolutely a minimum requirement is to use individual dustpan or brushes and cleaning cloths for each individual unit. The fastest way of disease transmission is either by cat to cat contact, cat to food dish contact or via staff, so the staff should wash hands between cleaning each unit. Each cattery should have a list of disinfectants approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and follow the recommendations of usage, published by manufacturer. Staff should remember, that disinfectants could be harmful for animals by themselves and control that boarders are protected from the contacts with disinfectants and units are well rinsed after the disinfection. Cavill (2008) informs us that ‘some disinfectants which are suitable for use in canine accommodation are not suitable for use with cats.’ Conclusions Summing up, I want to say that this may be just a first reaction that running a cattery could be easier than kennels by reason of they are ‘smaller than dogs, similar in size and most of them are neutered (Cavill, 2008). In fact, this business also requires a lot of theoretical and practical training, careful study of all processes, relevant documentation and laws, a clear understanding of the business specifics and significant financial investments. However, if you can not open the kennel, because of noise restrictions or you just simply do not have enough space, it is quite possible that you can get permission to open a cattery. To be successful in this business and have regular and loyal customers is not enough to be just an animal lover, you need to be a professional who understands the needs of cats as well as their unique psychological and physiological features. It is not easy to make them happy, because as I have mentioned above, they so attached to their homes, so new place could cause a lot of stress for them; their diets should be chosen very carefully and


health condition should be checked regularly. Considering all the above factors, by influencing the animals welfare is possible to build a flourish and long-term business, making happy both cattery’s boarders and their owners.

Bibliography Beaver, B.V., 2003. Feline Behavior. A Guide for Veterinarians. 2nd edition. Saunders Bradshaw, J.W.S., Casey, R.A. and Brown,S.L., 2012. The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat. 2 nd edition. CABI Cavill, D., 2008. Running Your Own Boarding Kennels. 4th edition. Kogan Page Limited Key, D., 2006. Cattery Design. The Essential Guide to Creating Your Perfect Cattery. Cambridge University Press Rochlitz, I., 2005. The Walfare of Cats. Springer Turner, D.C. and Bateson, P., 2004. The Domestic Cat. The Biology of its behavior. Cambridge University Press

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