Study aims to identify cat-friendly dogs

Sound recordings of cats could indicate whether a dog will be cat friendly.

A study by researchers at Canisius College, led by Christy L. Hoffman, PhD, assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology and conservation (ABEC), tested whether dogs' responses to cat-related sights, sounds, and smells provide clues about which dogs are cat friendly. The study was published in the March 2017 issue of Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

The purpose of the study is to help develop a standardized assessment to predict how dogs in animal shelters will behave around cats when their previous history is unknown. They recorded 69 dogs’ responses to various cat-related stimuli and had had raters unfamiliar with the dogs’ history code their reactions.

Researchers presented the dogs with a realistic-looking cat doll, recordings of cat sounds, and the smell of cat urine. Dogs spent the most time orienting to the cat sounds, and dogs who had a history of killing or injuring a cat or other small animal spent longer orienting to the cat sounds than other dogs. There was no relationship between a dog’s history with cats and their reactions to the visual and olfactory stimuli.

The findings indicate that it may be possible to use cat sounds to predict which dogs in shelters will have a better relationship in homes with cats.

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