Principal Investigator: Dr Emily Blackwell
Domestic cats are routinely exposed to a range of potentially stressful stimuli such as changes in their environment, or living in close proximity to other cats. In addition to causing behavioural changes associated with fear and anxiety, it is proposed that they may also trigger flare ups of serious medical conditions such as feline idiopathic cystitis, anorexia and pruritus.
This research project investigated whether a link exists between stress and pruritus in cats. Relatively little research has been completed on the relationship between environmental stress and pruritus in cats, even though anecdotal clinical reports suggest that stress can influence the occurrence of bouts of disease.
The findings from this study indicate that environmental stressors can influence the clinical signs of allergic skin disease in cats, over and above the particular allergens that may be driving the condition.
These findings have informed the content of advice sheets for cat owners on the risk factors for pruritus, including guidance on how to recognize stress in their pet and in cases where more support is required, where to obtain appropriate behavioural advice.