You may have caught wind of a recent study from Ramos et al., “Are cats (Felis catus) from multi-cat households more stressed? Evidence from assessment of fecal glucocorticoid metabolite analysis”, which was just published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.
Here’s just a taste of the headlines of news stories that covered the study:
- Your cat is stressed out by your perpetual petting
- Oops: Petting Your Cat Stresses Her Out
- Science: Your cat might hate getting pet
- Don’t Touch Kitty: Petting May Stress Out Your Cat
- An Unstroked Kitty Is A Happier Cat, Says Study
If you’re a cat lover like me, you might be feeling a little concerned! Let’s look at what the study sought to examine, what they found and what they didn’t find, and how the media interpreted the results.
The authors state that their main research question was to determine if living in a multi-cat household is stressful for cats. Cats are considered somewhat flexible in their ability to co-habitate with other cats, although this can depend on availability of resources. Feral cats will congregate over food sources and aid in co-mothering, and of course, many of our pet cats live in groups, as many cat owners have more than one—the average number of cats per cat-owning household is 2.1. But group living may cause stress when animals must compete for access to resources.
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