The Bristol Cats study – can you help?
What’s it all about?
The 'Bristol Cats' study is a 'first of its kind' study investigating cat health, welfare and behaviour. It launched in the Bristol area in June 2010, and rolled out across the U.K. in March 2011. The study has proved to be extremely popular with well over 1000 kittens and cats enrolled. Due to a well deserved funding boost, the study will continue throughout the whole of 2012. We hope that you will help us gather more information by encouraging kitten owners, breeders, carers or anyone with a kitten to take part and be one of the 1000 kitten owners we need to hear from, during 2012. We are keen to enrol kittens from different backgrounds including non pedigree and pedigree breeds and welcome multiple kittens from the same household.
How we collect information
We are collecting information from kitten owners to help find causes of common behaviour patterns and diseases of cats for example, obesity and hyperthyroidism. Kitten owners complete four online or postal questionnaires, initially when their kittens are between 8-16 weeks, then again at 6, 12, and 18 months of age. If further funding becomes available, the study will continue to a lifetime study of the kittens – but kitten owners can leave the study at any point should they wish to. We will then analyse the data to see what extent certain characteristics (e.g. obesity) are associated with management (e.g. diet, lifestyle) and other factors (e.g. breed).
What are the benefits?
We aim to provide guidance to the cat community at large, such as veterinary practitioners, cat breeders, owners and improve the health and welfare of cats. The study is the cat-equivalent of the 'Children of the 90's study' which has been collecting information relating to children in the Bristol region since the early 1990’s. This study has already identified ways to prevent many important conditions, such as cot death (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac). The lives of many children have been saved by those who gave their time and enrolled during the 90's and we hope you can spare a little time to help our study make a difference to cats.
How to get involved:
You can help by spreading the word to kitten owners, cat breeders or anyone with a kitten. Please contact us, using the details below, for a supply of posters and flyers to display and pass on to kitten owners who visit your premises.
If you have a kitten between 8 and 16 weeks of age, please log-on to our website and tell us about your kitten - we would also love to hear from owners of more than one kitten. Full details can be found at www.bristol.ac.uk/vetscience/cats, together with a link to the first questionnaire. Please also contact us if you prefer a paper copy of the questionnaire sent in the post.
Can I speak to someone about the study?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of the study, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. My colleague Emma Gale, will be working with me over the coming months and either Emma or I will be happy to talk over the phone, or to answer questions by email. You can also check our website for newsletters and updates about the study.
Thank you in anticipation of your help and support with this study.
Dr Jane Murray
Cats Protection Research Fellow
Bristol Cats, Dr Jane Murray
University of Bristol
BRISTOL, BS40 5DU