Nagasawa, T., Kimura, Y., Masuda, K. et al. 2022. Physiological assessment of the health and welfare of domestic cats—An exploration of factors affecting urinary cortisol and oxytocin. Animals 12(23), 3330.

Physiological samples are beneficial in assessing the health and welfare of cats. However, most studies have been conducted in specialized environments, such as shelters or laboratories, and have not focused on cats living in domestic settings. In addition, most studies have assessed physiological stress states in cats based on cortisol, and none have quantified positive indicators, such as oxytocin. Here, we collected urine samples from 49 domestic cats and quantified urinary cortisol, oxytocin, and creatinine using ELISA. To identify factors influencing hormone levels, owners responded to questionnaires regarding their housing environment, individual cat information, and the frequency of daily interactions with their cats. Using principal component analysis, principal component scores for daily interactions were extracted. These results showed that the frequency of tactile and auditory signal-based communication by owners was positively correlated with the mean concentration of oxytocin in the urine. Additionally, this communication was more frequent in younger cats or cats that had experienced a shorter length of cohabitation with the owner. However, no factors associated with urinary cortisol concentration were identified. Our study indicates that interactions and relationships with the owner influence the physiological status of cats and suggests that oxytocin is a valuable parameter for assessing their health and welfare.

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