The aim of this study was to identify whether towels over a cage or a box provided within a cage were better at reducing stress in the newly hospitalised cat. Forty-five cats were used, randomly allocated to one of three treatment groups: (1) Control, (2) Hide, (3) Screen. Temperature, heart rate (HR) and respiration rate (RR) were taken on admit and after 20 min. Cats were behaviourally scored for stress (CSS) on admit and every minute for 20 min within their cage. Control cats showed no reduction in HR or RR, but CSS did decline compared with the baseline (P = 0.002). Compared to the Control, a significant decrease in HR and RR was observed for both Hide (HR, P = 0.002; RR, P < 0.001) and Screen cats (HR, P = 0.001; RR, P < 0.001). HR decrease was similar between Hide and Screen cats but RR rate decrease was slightly more for Screen cats (P = 0.049). CSS also declined for both Hide cats (P < 0.001) and Screen cats (P < 0.001), with Hide cats showing a tendency to reduce CSS more than Screen cats (P = 0.054), and Screen cats a tendency to reduce CSS more than the Control condition (P = 0.090). The CSS of Hide cats declined significantly more than for Control cats (P = 0.003). Therefore, it is concluded that this study provided very limited, but positive, evidence that both enrichments may rapidly result in detectable reductions in feline stress levels. However, there is insufficient evidence to determine which enrichment method (if either) is better than the other.
- EBVM, veterinary nursing