Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Help Cat Behavior Researchers Understand Feline Behavior Better

Researchers at PennVet, the veterinary school at Penn State University, want your help to compile research on feline behavior. They're looking for people to participate in FeBARQ - the Feline Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire.

What Is FeBARQ?

Most cats live inside people's homes. Most people own one cay, maybe two. It's hard for researchers to conduct studies on pet cats because they are spread out in individual homes. And I suspect that when the researchers arrive for their studies, armed with clipboards and smelling of Science with a capital S, the cats dive under the bed and refuse to cooperate. It's a cat-thing.

Enter FeBARQ! It's a study conducted by the Penn Vet hospital intended to help researchers and veterinary scientists uncover what makes cats tick...or the mysteries of normal cat behavior. Yeah, good luck with that one.

Seriously, the scientists have developed a 100-question assessment that asks a lot of questions about kitty behavior. It includes questions about playtime, fear of dogs, purring, trainability and much more. Their goal is to compile a large-scale research study that will help them better understand the average behaviors of cats so that veterinary professionals, trainers, animal shelters and others can better evaluate and work with cats.

Genghis participated in the study.

What the FeBARQ Is Like

I enrolled Genghis Khan kitty into the FeBARQ study because among our cats, I find him to be the most quirky. He loves people; he shows no fear among strangers. He plays with children in our home. He likes to play with the other cats, but he can be aggressive. He's got so much energy he doesn't know what to do with himself. He sounded like the perfect specimen for the study.

After answering a brief series of questions about Genghis such as his age, gender, neutering history and history in our family, the survey questions appeared. There were 100 questions which took about 15 minutes to answer. I found the questions were easy to understand and there was an option to check if the question did not apply to my cat. For instance, Genghis is an indoor-only cat, so questions about chasing dogs on the street or bringing home prey weren't applicable.

At the end of the survey, you can click a button and see how your cat stacks up to the average for his breed. I wasn't surprised at how much higher on the socialization scale he scored, but I was surprised at how he scored on aggression. I wouldn't peg him as an 'aggressive' cat but when compared to the average, he does show a higher than normal aggression level.

I enjoyed participating in the study and liked knowing a little more about my cat's personality. If you'd like to enroll in the FeBARQ study, visit PennVet. They welcome pet owners' participation for a limited time only, then the study will be open only to trainers, veterinarians, and cat rescuers.

Visit the FeBARQ study page here: FeBARQ from PennVet.


  1. Thank you for letting us know about this.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I'm certainly going to offer my Toffee as a GuineaCat. She is certainly quirky! Love the picture of Genghis - made me laugh!
    That's Purrfect

  3. Dat's purretty cool. Mommy thinks she oughtta put me in. Fanks fur da link.

    Luv ya'


  4. Hmmmmm Not sure where our comment went. Great post. Fanks fur sharin' da link.

    Luv ya'


  5. This sounds very interesting. I will go visit their page.