The effects of social interaction and environmental enrichment on the space use, behaviour and stress of owned house cats facing a novel environment. 

Ways to reduce stress for cats in unfamiliar environments

Source: L.K. Rehnberg, K.A. Robert, S.J. Watson, R.A. Peters 
Applied Animal Behaviour Science  vol 169, August 2015, pp 51-61

Cats can become stressed when they are away from home, for example in a cattery or a shelter, so it is worth investigating ways to help them by changing their environment. This study involved 20 neutered cats away from home, observed over a period of two days.

Cats were more likely to show signs of stress if they were older, male, and had no previous experience of being in a confined space. Signs of stress included hiding in a concealed area, or being inactive, rather than eating, grooming, and using open spaces. Cats especially liked some parts of their enclosures, like cat igloos, which were used more by cats showing higher stress levels. Cats that showed fewer signs of stress tended to use the upper tiers of a climbing tree.

 Cats did not appear to be especially interested in items which smelled of their owners, though it was expected that the owners´scent might calm them. The cats did, however, show less stress when their carers interacted with them for longer periods.

Putting both igloos or other hiding places, and climbing structures like cat trees in cattery enclosures could benefit cats housed there, and the cats would also benefit from their carers spending more time with them.