The Health, Haematology and Blood Biochemistry of Free-Ranging Farm Cats in Relation to Social Status

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Abstract:

In order to test the hypothesis that social parameters within carnivore societies are correlated with health status, a profile is presented of the general health, haematology and blood biochemistry of a colony of free-living feral farm cats (Felis silvestris catus). Samples and biochemical data were collected between late November and early December 1989. A higher proportion of adult males than females was found to be clinically abnormal. Social status (Central or Peripheral) had a significant effect on female mouth condition, but not on male mouth condition. Eosinophilia (34.6% of individuals), high fibrinogen levels (19.2%) and low haemoglobin levels (28.8%) were significantly more likely to occur in clinically abnormal than in clinically normal cats. Blood biochemistry varied with age and, among adults only, varied between the sexes. Haematological measurements varied significantly with age and sex. There were no haematological effects of social status in males, but in females social status affected reticulocyte, neutrophil, eosinophil and white blood cell (WEC) counts. We interpret variation in health and haematology in terms of the differences in social status and reproductive tactics.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BLOOD BIOCHEMISTRY; FERAL CAT; GENERAL HEALTH; HAEMATOLOGY; SOCIAL STATUS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1998

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