Approximately 3.4 million cats are surrendered to animal shelters every year in the United States. For the cats, this can be an incredibly stressful time in their lives. Malini Suchak, PhD, assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology, and conservation, formed a group of students affectionately referred to as the “Cat Crew,” to study the lives of shelter cats with the goal of improving their welfare. The group partners with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Serving Erie County for their data collection.
Some members of the Cat Crew visit the SPCA a few times per week and collect observational data on the cats living in colony housing. The crew also has a system of GoPro Cameras set up at the shelter that collect time lapse footage of the cats’ movements around their enclosure. With more than 15,000 pictures collected so far, many members of the group spend their time in the lab carefully analyzing each picture. Suchak and her students regularly share the group’s findings with the SPCA and at national conferences.
More information on Dr. Suchak and the Cat Crew can be found here.
Submitted by: Sara Morris, PhD, associate vice president, academic affairs