Undergraduate Research Profile: Cat Cost

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Two Auburn pre-veterinary medicine/wildlife sciences students are collaborating with Auburn University’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program in a project aimed at helping pet owners to be better informed about the long-term considerations and costs associated with pet ownership, before they take on that commitment.

Abby Hagelskamp and Allison Gary of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences—under the faculty mentorship of Dr. Christopher Lepczyk, a professor of wildlife biology and conservation—are compiling a survey involving veterinarians in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. They are focused on cats in their project titled “Creating a Social Survey to Analyze Differential Veterinary Care Cost for Indoor Versus Outdoor House Cat (Felis Catus) in the Southeastern Region.” The electronic data source is intended to become a model that provides a wealth of information about the economic considerations of owning a pet and properly caring for it.

Veterinary care costs vary among cats that are kept indoors versus those that live outdoors. This project has the potential to better inform pet owners about what the total lifetime cost of owning a cat may be and how choosing to keep it as an outdoor or indoor cat may affect those costs. It also provides a more complete picture of the cost of veterinary care as a whole and as an economic market. Ultimately, this project may help to reduce the number who take on the responsibility of an animal but later must surrender it due to being unable to afford it or to provide the proper veterinary care.

The data will be analyzed and compiled in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, and their results will be presented in late spring. Both students plan to pursue veterinary medicine degrees following their undergraduate studies.

The Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program is administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research under the auspices of the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Students interested in the program must have a faculty mentor, and applications are open annually. For more information, visit: our.auburn.edu.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.