Original Research

A report on the housing vervet monkeys adjacent to domestic cats as a means of environmental enrichment

John K. Chipangura, Andre Ganswindt, Vinny Naidoo
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 87, No 1 | a1870 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v87i1.1870 | © 2020 John K. Chipangura, Andre Ganswindt, Vinny Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 01 April 2020 | Published: 26 November 2020

About the author(s)

John K. Chipangura, Biomedical Research Centre, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Andre Ganswindt, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Mammal Research Institute, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Vinny Naidoo, Biomedical Research Centre, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

In current research guidelines, much focus is placed on ethical management of animals and the application of principles of reduction, refinement and replacement. Of these refinements through environmental enrichment is an important aspect when housing primate to prevent behavioural problems. In this study, we investigated the co-housing of domestic cats and vervet monkeys as a novel method of enrichment based on the cohabitation and stress alleviation effect of horses housed with goats and from seeing cats cohabitating with vervet monkeys in an animal sanctuary. The study used a habituation method whereby the cats were stepwise introduced to the monkeys by sight and smell but with physical separation. Assessment included changes in behaviour, weight and faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations over time. On the first day of housing, the vervets whilst inquisitive kept their distance. The vervets housed in cages that were closest to the cats were the most active and during the first minute of introduction made more alarm calls, which stopped a few days later. The fGCMs were non-significantly different. The results of this study provide evidence that vervet monkeys and domestic cats could potentially be housed together without overt aggression. We thus suggest further observations to ascertain if the co-housing could have long-term benefits for vervet monkeys, from the companionship that would be offered by the cats.

Keywords

vervet monkeys; domestic cats; stress; faecal glucocorticoid metabolites

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