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, 238 (9), 1141-9

Behavioral Differences Between Urban Feeding Groups of Neutered and Sexually Intact Free-Roaming Cats Following a Trap-Neuter-Return Procedure

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Behavioral Differences Between Urban Feeding Groups of Neutered and Sexually Intact Free-Roaming Cats Following a Trap-Neuter-Return Procedure

Hilit Finkler et al. J Am Vet Med Assoc.

Abstract

Objective: To examine behavioral differences during a 1-year observational period between urban feeding groups of neutered and sexually intact free-roaming cats following a trap-neuter-return procedure.

Design: Natural-setting trial. Animals-Free-roaming cats (n = 184) living in 4 feeding groups in an urban region of Israel.

Procedures: Trap-neuter-return procedures were applied to 2 cat feeding groups (A and B). Their social and feeding behaviors and frequency of appearance at feeding time were compared with those of 2 unneutered cat groups (C and D). Behavioral data were obtained from weekly observations before and during feeding over a 1-year period. Results-A lower rate of agonistic interactions was observed in the neutered groups than in the unneutered groups. Sexually intact male cats participated in more agonistic male-male encounters than did neutered male cats. Of 199 such encounters in the feeding groups, only 1 occurred between 2 neutered males. Neutered cats in group A appeared earlier and had higher frequencies of feeding and appearance at the feeding site, compared with unneutered cats.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Less aggression was observed in the neutered groups, specifically, fewer agonistic neutered-neutered male encounters occurred. This reduced agonistic behavior of neutered males resulted in reduced fighting and vocalizations, potentially leading to fewer injuries and reduced transmission of fight-related infectious diseases and reduced noise disturbance from a human perspective. Regarding food delivery, the feeding groups were time-and-place dependent, exhibiting context-related social interactions. When competing for food resources, as neutered cats time their arrival in accordance with food delivery, they thereby gain access to the choicest items.

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