Over 1,000 kitten owners across the UK are helping with the ’Bristol Cats’ study, but even more kittens are needed to take part in the first study of its kind to investigate cat health, welfare and behaviour.The ’Bristol Cats’ study, run by the University of Bristol, was launched in Bristol in June 2010. Due to its success the study was extended to include all kitten owners in the UK and the study has recently received funding to continue for another year. The researchers wish to recruit a further 1,000 kitten owners across the UK who own a kitten aged between eight and 16 weeks by the end of December 2012.
’Bristol Cats’ is led by academics at the University’s School of Veterinary Sciences and is being carried out because little is known about the causes of common behaviour patterns and diseases of cats, such as, obesity, diet, lifestyle, aggression towards people, spraying and lower urinary tract problems.
Jane Murray, Cats Protection Lecturer in Feline Epidemiology, said: "We are delighted with the number of people who have registered their kitten with the ’Bristol Cats’ study but we need more kittens to take part. By taking part in the study participants will be part of a project that will make a difference to the lives of cats in the future.
"If you are interested in helping with the study, please call the ’Bristol Cats’ team on 07827 981412 or email cat-study [a] bristol.ac (p) uk."
The results of the study will be used to help improve the health and welfare of cats in the future, in the same way that the University’s Children of the 90’s study, a long-term health research project that has followed the health and development of 14,000 children since 1991, has helped in the knowledge of childhood diseases.
Kitten owners, who are over 18 years of age, complete four online or postal questionnaires, initially when their kittens are approximately eight to 16 weeks, then again at six, 12, and 18 months of age. These questionnaires provide the researchers with very valuable data. The researchers can analyse these data to see to what extent certain characteristics or conditions are associated with the cat’s management and other factors.
Details about the study, including access to online questionnaires and results, are available at www.bristol.ac.uk/vetscience/cats. Owners can complete questionnaires online or request paper questionnaires. Participation in the study is voluntary and owners have the right to withdraw from the study at any point.
’Bristol cats’ was launched in the Bristol area on 1 June 2010 and nationwide in May 2011. One thousand kittens have registered with the study since 2010.