For cats, appropriate housing conditions and a quick adjustment to new surroundings should be promoted during temporary stays in animal shelters and boarding catteries. In this study the development of stress in 140 boarding cats during a two-week stay under single-, pair- and group-housing conditions in a boarding cattery was investigated and compared with the stress levels of 45 control cats which had been at the animal shelter for several weeks. Signs of stress were recorded by a non-invasive Cat-Stress-Score.
Overall, the levels of stress in boarding cats declined during the two weeks of boarding, with a pronounced decline in the first days, but did not reach the stress levels of the control group by the end of the second week of housing. In the second week, the average stress level of about one third of all boarding cats was rated higher than 'weakly tense' with 4 per cent of cats rated even higher than 'very tense'. Neither housing style (single, paired or grouped) nor age had an influence on stress levels.
It was concluded that about two thirds of the boarding cats adjusted well to the boarding cattery during a two-week stay, while for the other third, temporary boarding was more stressful. For 4 per cent of the animals the two-week stay in a boarding cattery was classified as inappropriate because no reduction of their high stress levels occurred.