Daily rhythm of total activity pattern in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) maintained in two different housing conditions

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Abstract

Housing conditions and human presence have been shown to have an influence on daily amount of activity in herbivores. Only few studies on the behavior of cats and interactions between cat and human were conducted, and these few works are referred to cats housed in laboratories. At the same way, only few and conflicting reports about the presence of circadian rhythms in cats are present. In view of this incomplete literature, the main aim of our study was to investigate the influence of different housing conditions on daily rhythm of total locomotor activity (TLA) in cats.

For this purpose, 10 clinically healthy adult domestic cats were used. They were divided into 2 equal groups living with their owner in their home. Group A lived in 80-100 m2 house and had free daily access to 20-40 m2 garden from 08:00 to 9:00. Group B lived in 200-250 m2 house, had free access to 2000-2500 m2 garden all day, and from 21:00 to 08:00 they were kept outside. Our results showed that in group A, that live in strong symbiosis with owners respect to group B, the amount of activity was higher during the photophase. This supporting the view that domestic cats adapt their lifestyle with their owners. Group B exhibited the highest level of locomotor activity during the scotophase. Moreover, a robust daily rhythmicity of TLA was observed in group B; on the contrary, in group A, TLA showed no daily rhythmicity. Our findings underline the high influence of human presence and care on the amount of activity and daily rhythm in cats.

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