A study which hopes to identify whether a cat is suffering from an unseen illness is being led by scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK.
While cats are known for being meticulous groomers, with a large amount of their time awake spent doing just that, the University’s research team is keen to talk to cat owners whose pets display more unusual behaviours such as trichotillomania (hair pulling), tail mutilation, pica (eating non-food material such as plastic or fabric) and other compulsions which may cause damage to the animal’s coat or skin.
Participants who enlist their pet in the study will be sent special non-intrusive sample kits via post and will be required to provide a faecal specimen collected from their cat, which will be tested for the purposes of research.
Professor Daniel Mills, School of Life Sciences, who is leading the study alongside bio veterinary scientist Dr Simon Clegg explained: “There is growing interest in the link between physical illness and behavioural problems, and the pioneering work of my colleague Dr Clegg on novel pathogens has opened up a completely new line of enquiry on some challenging cat behaviour problems. Over-sensitivity to touch and many repetitive behaviour problems are very challenging to treat and often don’t respond to behaviour modification alone.”
“Dr Clegg’s work indicates that a new viral strain may be behind the problem and so it is important that we check this out with more controlled studies. This work will be a real first in the field.”
A control group is also required and owners with cats who do not display any unusual behaviours will also be recruited.
The study is open to all members of the public who own a cat in the UK.
For details on how to take part, please visit:https://unioflincoln.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3w7sOZDIt9xwZzD