Date Published: 6 August 2005

Clinical Training Scholarship awarded by Cats Protection for research at Bristol University

Cats are currently the UK's favourite pet with over nine million cats owned by six million UK households. Of the 60,000 cats homed by Cats Protection each year, approximately 10% initially come into the charity's care with behavioural problems.

A graduate has been awarded Cats Protection's first Clinical Training Scholarship in cat behaviour and welfare, to be based at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Science.

Jenna Kiddie, 23, from Monifieth near Dundee, was awarded the Scholarship, the first of its kind in Europe, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh in January with an MSc in Applied Behaviour and Animal Welfare.

The aim of the three-year Scholarship is to further understanding of feline welfare, particularly within a rescue environment. Together with veterinary experts in the field of animal behaviour, Jenna will develop a series of research projects specific to cat behaviour.

"To have the chance to work with specialists, learn from their expertise and then use my knowledge to further cat welfare within a rescue environment really is a great opportunity for me," said Jenna.

Jenna's research findings will have a number of positive outcomes for Cats Protection, including the provision of further training for staff and volunteers in feline behavioural and welfare issues.

Behavioural problems are a particular concern as cats are often abandoned or brought into the charity's care because they have displayed behaviour that is unacceptable to their owners, such as inappropriate toileting or aggression. It's a vicious cycle, as felines with behavioural problems can be harder to home. The provision of behavioural advice, based on scientific research studies, can help to tackle the causes of the problems.

"Our behavioural work has helped us to develop procedures to enable new cats to cope within the rescue environment, and to identify those that haven't adapted well so that special care can be provided for them,"

explained Beth Skillings, Cats Protection's Head of Veterinary Services.

"Jenna's studies will certainly help us to rehabilitate more cats and find them suitable homes."

Jenna's research findings will also promote appropriate behavioural therapies for cats, as opposed to pharmaceutical treatment, to the wider animal welfare community.

As part of its commitment to providing quality information concerning cat welfare, Cats Protection presently funds three academic veterinary posts at Bristol University - covering specialist feline medicine, feline epidemiology and feline behaviour and welfare.

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Source: Bristol University - Press Release.


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