Behaviour 2019
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Ordinal rating scales to monitor behavioural indicators of well-being in confined cats
Jacklyn J Ellis. Toronto Humane Society, Toronto, ONTARIO, Canada

When caring for confined cats, monitoring behavioural indicators of well-being is essential. However, in environments like shelters there are often many volunteers or staff members documenting interactions, and language is rarely standardized. Phrases like “getting better” or “friendly” are frequently used, but offer little descriptive value, and often differ in definition between individuals. Standardized rating scales that describe the intensity of desirable or undesirable behaviours may be useful. To fulfill this need, 4 ordinal behavioural rating scales have been developed: Response to Petting score; Participation in Play score; Fear, Anxiety, and Stress score (adapted slightly from the Fear Free program); and Food Intake Score. A group of 7 volunteers were given a standardized training on these scales, followed by 30 videos to rate for each score. Results indicate that these scores had excellent interobserver reliability (Kendall’s W ≥ 9), and could be used by other caretakers of cats in confined conditions to monitor well-being. Case studies are presented to demonstrate how these scores can be used to improve quality of care.