Influence of cinnamon and catnip on the stereotypical pacing of oncilla cats (Leopardus tigrinus) in captivity

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2011;14(3):247-54. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2011.576981.


Nonhuman animals in captivity can experience environmental privation that results in their exhibiting abnormal behaviors. Environmental enrichment techniques can help improve their welfare. This study investigated the behavior of 8 zoo-housed oncilla cats (Leopardus tigrinus) in response to 2 odors (catnip and cinnamon) introduced individually into the animals' enclosures for 3 consecutive days. Proportion of scans spent engaging in stereotypical pacing were compared before, during, and after treatments. The addition of cinnamon reduced the proportion of pacing during and after enrichment (Wilcoxon: Z = 3.16, p < .001; Z = 3.16, p < .001, respectively), indicating a prolonged effect of the enrichment on the animals' behavior. Catnip appears to have elicited no significant difference in the stereotypic pacing before, during, or after the enrichment (Friedman: X(2) = 2.69; p = .260). The results highlight the potential use of cinnamon as a method of environmental enrichment for small captive-housed cats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum*
  • Environment
  • Nepeta*
  • Panthera*
  • Play and Playthings
  • Stereotyped Behavior*