The aim of the course is to prepare participants academically to work in the role of feline behaviour advisor. It is designed to be the definitive course on feline behaviour management for those who cannot afford the time (or money) to go to university to study animal behaviour. It should be noted that this course will not directly involve students in the practical aspects of the subject matter as it is not possible to supervise such activity. It is anticipated that other recommended organisations will offer such training and supervision.
This course is not open to all because of the technical nature of the material and potential students will have to demonstrate their ability to study at this level (level 5: HND/Foundation degree) before being accepted.
It should be noted that a long standing, "hands on" knowledge of cats will not normally be accepted as adequate qualification to register on this programme without prior study although each case is judged on its own merits.
Module 1 - Learning Theory
• What is learning? An introduction to learning theories.
• The different ways cats learn.
• Classical and operant conditioning.
• Stimulus generalisation and stimulus discrimination.
• Types of reinforcement.
• Vicarious learning.
• Learning through experience, trial and error learning and one-trial learning and the effects on future behaviour.
Module 2 - The Genetics and Evolution of Feline Behaviour
• The genetics of the cat, and how genes can affect behaviour.
• Biological principles; cell division, types of reproduction.
• The principles of inheritance of genes.
• The links between cats and their ancestors, similarities and differences.
• How domestication and artificial selection have changed the physical and behavioural characteristics of cats.
Module 3 - Biochemistry of the brain
• The differences between the divisions of the nervous system.
• The different neural pathways between voluntary and involuntary behaviour.
• The structure of the nervous system.
• Overview of the brain and the functions of the various parts.
• Neurotransmitters and how they affect feline behaviour.
• The senses of the cat and how they differ from other species.
• A detailed look at the sense of smell and how this affects feline behaviour.
Module 4 - Pharmacology
• The classes and types of veterinary drugs.
• Different ways that drugs act on the body.
• The ways that drugs can impact upon feline behaviour.
• Some common medical disorders and the ways that these can influence
the behaviour of a cat.
• For the project a chemical that might be found within the environment is
selected and researched to find out how this could impact upon the
health and behaviour of the cat.
Module 5 - The internal environment
• Homeostasis and the normal physiology of the body.
• How health and physiology can affect feline behaviour.
• Various medical conditions are covered, and their behavioural effects.
• The physiological and behavioural effects of stress, and the hormones
• Other biological factors, for example how hormones or nutrition can
Module 6 - The external environment
• The external factors that can affect the behaviour of a cat.
• The environment in which the cat lives, and the experiences it has had.
• The interactions between other cats, and also with people.
• The importance of socialisation in early life.
• Scientific research that has been carried out into the social development
• The problems that can occur due to poor socialisation.
• The importance of consistency when training cats.
• The effects of a cattery environment on behaviour and stress levels.
• This module introduces some case studies for analysis to identify causes
of problem behaviour.
Module 7 - Intelligence and Theory of Mind
• Do animals think?
• Do they experience emotions?
• Do they recognise themselves in a mirror?
• Are they aware of the intentions of others?
• Can we define intelligence and what it means?
• A review of the scientific research that has been carried out on animal
• An analysis of the selfish gene theory.
Module 8 - Behavioural Diagnostics
• The many possible causes of a particular behavioural problem (root
causes of behaviour).
• Environment, nature, nurture, pharmacological, physiological causes, and
how more than one of these could be the cause of a problem.
• How we can diagnose the cause of behaviour, by asking questions and
analysing the situation.
• Drawing on knowledge gained from the previous modules to discuss all
the possible reasons why a cat is behaving in a certain way.
• Designing history sheets to use during client consultations.
Module 9 - Professional Conduct
• Maintaining a professional image when dealing with clients and the
veterinary profession when working as a behaviourist.
• The importance of excellent communication skills.
• The business aspects of working as a behaviourist, such as insurance
and code of conduct.
• Dealing with clients, using tact or sympathy when dealing with clients
and difficult situations.
• Designing promotional material.
• Writing letters to veterinary professionals.
Module 10 - Application of Theory
• The way we interact when dealing with cats, and how our own behaviour
can potentially influence theirs.
• Fear and how to deal with it.
• Aggression and why it might occur and how to deal with it.
• The scientific study of behaviour, including presenting reports,
interpreting data and graphs.
• Carrying out an observational study of your own on feline behaviour.
• Analysing different methods of dealing with a behavioural problem
to determine the likely success of different approaches.
Module 11 - The Law
• Legislation affects anyone working with cats and their owners.
• The legal position and the laws that affect felines and those working
• The Animal Welfare Act.
• Responsibility for animals in your care.
• The law regarding behavioural treatment of animals, and how this
relates to the Veterinary legislation.
Module 12 - Case Studies
• Analysis of case studies to pull together all the knowledge gained
throughout the course.
• The examination of ten different behavioural problem case studies.
• Suggesting how you would go about assessing and solving the problems.
• Demonstrating knowledge of all factors that might affect feline behaviour,
including learning, genetics, and biological and environmental
• Suggestions for solving problem behaviour.
• Production of professional reports and letters to clients and veterinary