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ABSTRACT This study aimed to describe the prevalence of intimate partner violence in a community sample, as well as identify associations between these behaviors and socioeconomic factors. Given the predominance of these studies in high-income countries, more investigations are needed in low- and middle-income countries.


Identifying and preventing the occurrence of separation-related problems SRP in companion animals are relevant to animal welfare and the quality of human-pet interactions. The SRP are defined as a set of behaviors and physiological s displayed by the animal when separated from its attachment person. In cats, SRP has been insufficiently studied.

Thus, the objective of this study was to develop a questionnaire for cat owners which identifies behaviors that may indicate SRP, as well as relates the occurrence of SRP to the management practices applied in the sampled cats.

The questionnaire was developed based on the scientific literature about separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and a few papers in cats, and it was completed by owners of cats. Among the sampled animals, Destructive behavior was the most frequently reported behavior Separation-related problems in domestic cats are difficult to identify due to the limited amount of knowledge regarding the issue.

The questionnaire developed in this study supported identification of the main behaviors likely related to SRP in cats and could be used as a starting point for future research. Behavioral problems in companion animals are among the main causes of abandonment in many countries, such as the United States of America, Japan and the United Kingdom [ 1 — 4 ]. For cats, the abandonment usually occurs when the animal exhibits behaviors perceived by owners as problematic, such as aggressiveness towards people and other animals in the house, inappropriate elimination and destructive behavior directed at the house [ 125 — 7 ].

Other behaviors considered problematic but natural to cats include scratching, climbing to high places, nocturnal activities, attention seeking, plant chewing, attempts to escape from the home and vocalizations [ 89 ].

For instance, an experiment conducted to verify the attachment of cats towards their owners, using a modified version of the Ainsworth test, found that cats showed a higher frequency of exploratory and playful behaviors when accompanied by their owners, in comparison to when they were alone or accompanied by an unknown person [ 2021 ].

Similarly, those cats showed a lower frequency of alert and inactivity behaviors when their owners were present [ 20 ]. Another study verified an increase of affiliative behaviors in cats after reuniting with their owners [ 14 ]. Therefore, it becomes relevant to study whether those animals can develop separation-related problems SRP. In the scientific literature, there is divergence regarding the nomenclature used for expressing the behavioral problems related to separation in companion animals with at least three terminologies commonly used: separation-related problems [ 2223 ]; separation distress [ 24 ] and separation anxiety syndrome [ 1525 ].

In spite of using different terms to describe this condition, some of the behaviors most commonly used to characterize SRP are usually the same: destructive behavior, excessive vocalization and inappropriate elimination when the animal is alone [ 2226 ]. In this study we will use the term SRP, since it is the most general and includes behavioral disturbances that occur in the presence or absence of physiological s of stress [ 232427 ].

Separation-related problems have been vastly studied in domestic dogs [ 232427 ]; however, for cats few studies have reported the occurrence of SRP [ 152528 ]. To the best of our knowledge, there are only two empirical studies [ 1528 ] and one review article [ 25 ] addressing this condition in cats. Studies that verify the care practices used by owners and the impacts of management on the welfare of cats are also scarce [ 61229 — 31 ].

The majority of dog-focused SRP studies are based on questionnaire data [ 2235 — 37 ] since monitoring animals in domestic environments may not be viable. Due to the importance of questionnaire studies, which enable the identification of relevant biological, social and cultural factors, this study aimed to develop a questionnaire for cat owners which identifies the most typical behaviors characteristic of SRP, as well as relates the occurrence of SRP to the management practices applied in the sampled cats. The research participants ed a consent form before answering the questionnaire.

The interviewed population were owners of adult cats above 6 months of age residing in the city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, Brazil.

Identification of separation-related problems in domestic cats: a questionnaire survey

A total of questionnaires were completed by owners whose cats lived either in houses, apartments or commercial establishments. The snowball sampling method was used, in which the participants suggested new people to take part in the study.

Following recruitment, the researchers arranged meetings with the participants and completed the questionnaire during a semi-structured interview. A questionnaire was developed based on published literature about separation anxiety syndrome in dogs [ 22232526353638 — 40 ] and cats [ 1525 ]. The initial part of the questionnaire was related to basic information about the animal as reported by the cat owners: name, breed, age, gender, reproductive status neutered or not and how long the owner had the cat.

Therefore, questions related to the most typical behavioral s of SRP were incorporated, including four behavioral urination at inappropriate locations, defecation at inappropriate locations, destructive behavior and excessive vocalization based on Schwartz [ 15 ]. Also, we defined three additional expressing mental states of the animals depression, aggressiveness, agitation-anxiety when the cat was alone or separated from the owner.

Since studies have suggested that characteristics of the owner in addition to traits of the environment and management practices could affect the development of SRP in dogs and cats, the questionnaire included the following additional components: owner gender; owner age in years ; of residents in I am seeking a Juiz de fora companion house 1, 2, 3, 4 to 7 ; of female residents none, 1, 2, 3 to 5 ; of male residents none, 1, 2, 3 to 5 ; type of residence house or apartment ; access to the whole house Y, N ; outdoor access Y, N ; frequency of outdoor access always, often, occasionally, never ; visual outdoor access Y, N ; access to elevated areas as in shelves, tables or others Y, N ; access to cat toys Y, N ; play with cat toys or other objects Y, N, only when stimulated, does not have access to toys ; frequency in which the cat was left alone in the house 5 to 7 times per week, 1 to 4 times per week, occasionally [i.

A descriptive analysis of the questionnaire data was made through data categorization and calculating the frequency of each answer. After examining the frequencies of behaviors and emotional states indicative of SRP, cats were characterized as having possible SRP if they met the following criteria: I cats for which the owners reported two or more behavioral used as indicators of SRP urination at inappropriate locations, defecation at inappropriate locations, destructive behavior and excessive vocalization ; II cats with a positive answer for one behavioral category and one or more emotional states assessed; III cats for which the owners reported the occurrence of three mental states indicative of SRP depression, aggressiveness, agitation-anxiety.

Cats ased to one or more criteria defined by the authors were considered as the SRP group. Dependences among variables were verified through Multiple Correspondence Analysis MCAwhich was used to reveal underlying patterns of associations between SRP and the answers regarding the owner characteristics, environmental and management traits.

The MCA is an exploratory multivariate technique applied to strictly categorical variables useful for analyzing questionnaire data [ 43 ]. MCA reveals the associations between each level of multiple categorical variables, allowing for determination of how the variables are related.

This is the main advantage of MCA as compared to the chi-square test, which reveals ificant associations between two variables only, and does not reveal the direction of association i. The MCA uses the chi-square in order to standardize frequencies and build the base for associations among the levels of the studied variables named as correspondences in a contingency table [ 4546 ].

Associated data

All types of categorical variables are acceptable nominal or ordinal, binary or with multiple levels without distributional assumptions [ 4344 ]. Variance is expressed as the inertia, that is the dispersion of the data in relation to independence.

The first dimension Dim. The distributions of the variables in both dimensions Dim 1 vs. Dim 2 generates a biplot graph, where each variable category is represented by a point in the scatterplot.

Identification of separation-related problems in domestic cats: a questionnaire survey it offers free parking and free wi-fi.

Closeness of points is interpreted as the association between rows and columns variables, revealing groups of correspondences [ 4344 ]. Thus, the MCA were interpreted by the relative positions of the points and their distribution along the Dim. As become more related to SRP, the closer they were represented in space, falling in the same side or quadrant of the graphs. Among all sampled cats, Most of the SRP cats Destructive behavior was the most reported in those cats, followed by urination in inappropriate places, excessive vocalization, agitation, depression-apathy, aggressiveness and, in lower frequency, defecation in inappropriate places.

The age of the cats varied between 6 months to 16 years, with a mean of 3. The of residents varied from 1 to 7, with two or three people in most of the residences. Most of the sampled residences had a single female Table 3.

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Houses with two females had a higher occurrence of SRP than the rest of the sampled population The owners who participated in the survey ranged in age from 18 to 75 years. The MCA generated two dimensions, the first Dim. In Dim. Thus, it did not reveal interpretable patterns of association with the owner traits that deviate from independence.

Based on the closeness among the points of this group, cats whose owners reported behaviors consistent with SRP were associated with households including no female residents, owners aged 18 to 35 years, and two female residents. Two dimensions were retained in the MCA, Dim. The SRP category was positioned in the IV quadrant and showed three interpretable correspondence groups. In Dim 2. Most studies about cat behavior have been done under experimental conditions laboratoriesin shelters, or in feral cat colonies; thus, there is a gap in the knowledge regarding the behavior of domiciled cats and the interactions with their owners [ 47 — 50 ].

This study provides information about behavioral s consistent with SRP in a sampled population of domestic cats, as well as about the management practices used by their owners. We also found elements related to the owner as well as environmental and management characteristics that may predispose cats to be reported by owners as having s consistent with SRP. Cats might be regarded as social partners for their owners and vice-versa [ 51 ].

For instance, a study found temporal patterns of interaction between owners and their cats. Those patterns vary depending on factors that influence the human-cat bond and relationship, such as the owners and cats personalities and owners sex [ 51 ]. Moreover, in dy with a female owner, the of interactions per minute was higher when compared to dy with a male owner [ 51 ]. In general, both domiciled and shelter cats can benefit from human contact and they seek it through affiliative behaviors [ 19475152 ].

Therefore, it is essential to investigate the possibility of SRP occurrence in domestic cats, given that some studies suggest that cats develop attachment and secure bonding with their owners [ 205153 ]. For instance, a study found indicators of attachment relationships between humans with their kittens and adult cats, including proximity seeking, separation distress and reunion behavior, as well as individual differences were consistent with attachment style categorizations [ 53 ].

In the present study, 30 of evaluated cats Together, these reveal the likelihood of SRP occurrence in cats along with a gap of information regarding SRP in the species, suggesting this is a neglected issue in the area of behavioral problems in cats.

For assessment of SRP, the Fe-BARQ did not include the most typical s of destructive behavior and inappropriate elimination of urine and feces both exclusively occurring in the absence of the owner, as did the present study. Vocalization when the cat was left alone was included in both questionnaires. Given the lack of information on cats, the literature on SRP in dogs can be useful for general comparisons. In most of these studies, the identification of SRP was based on the reports of dog owners interviews and questionnaires.

It is worth noting that the SRP cats of the present study were reported by their owners as having behavioral or emotional s consistent with SRP defined here as SRP group and did not necessarily have SRP, as the questionnaire still needs further validation based on behavioral observations or experimentation. In addition, none of the owners reported that their cats had any diagnosis of SRP by a veterinarian or clinical ethologist.

The behaviors and mental states reported in the present study may also indicate other disorders such as generalized anxiety, boredom, or physiological problems.

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