Companion animals and laboratory animals



We focus on the behaviour, husbandry and welfare of companion animals (e.g. dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, rodents) kept as pets or in larger populations (e.g. in shelters or pet shops) as well as stray cats. One of our key competences is welfare assessment.

We are especially interested in human-animal interactions and human attitudes and their link to animal behaviour and welfare.

A related area of interest is how to improve management and handling practices (e.g. reducing fear and stress) and the prevention of injuries inflicted by animals. Our goals are to prevent behaviour and welfare problems and to develop methods to improve the quality of life of companion animals.


Selected projects

  • Pet-friendly practice: improvement of welfare in cats and dogs in veterinary practice. current project
  • Influence of caretaker & household characteristics on provision of toys and activities to cats. current project
  • Supervision of children and dogs – implications of dog bite prevention. current project 
  • Evaluation of environment, health and population size  of stray and feral cats in Vienna (Study accompanying the Viennese TNR project 2013 – 2017). current project
  • Prevalence and treatment of noise aversion/sensitivity in dogs. current project
  • Dog Husbandry – environmental enrichment. current project
  • Survey into farmers' attitudes and behaviour towards cats, as well as husbandry, care and management of cats on Austrian farms. current project
  • Welfare of dogs and cats in animal shelters. current project
  • Husbandry, behaviour, and welfare of pet ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) and caretakers' attitudes: a questionnaire survey. current project
  • Husbandry of pet rabbits and potential associations of behavioural problems and diseases with housing, management and the human-animal relationship: a questionnaire survey. current project

Selected publications of our team members

Gilhofer E M, Windschnurer I, Troxler J, Heizmann V (2019): Welfare of feral cats and potential influencing factors. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 30, 114-123.

Pratsch L, Mohr N, Palme R, Rost J, Troxler J, Arhant C (2018): Carrier training cats reduces stress on transport to a veterinary practice Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2018, 206, 64-74.

Arhant C, Troxler J (2017): Is there a relationship between attitudes of shelter staff to cats and the cats’ approach behaviour? Applied Animal Behaviour Science 187, 60-68.

Arhant C, Beetz A, Troxler J (2017): Caregiver reports of interactions between children up to 6 years and their family dog – implications for dog bite prevention. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 4:130.

Arhant C, Hörschläger N, Troxler J, Binder R (2017): Schutz von Hunden und Katzen in der tierärztlichen Kleintierpraxis: Empfehlungen zur Optimierung der Ausstattung und des Managements sowie des Umgangs mit Patienten unter Tierschutzaspekten. Wiener tierärztliche Monatsschrift: 104, 9-10 259-276.

Windschnurer I, Köbrunner D, Stetina BU, Künzel F, Waiblinger S (2017): An insight into husbandry conditions and welfare of pet ferret (Mustela putorius furo). 11th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting; Sep 14-16 2017, Samorin, Slovakia (Abstract).

Arhant C, Landenberger R, Beetz A, Troxler J (2016): Attitudes of caregivers to supervision of child-family dog interactions in children up to six years – an exploratory study. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour 14, 10-16.

Heizmann V, Gilhofer E, Windschnurer I, Troxler J (2015): Evaluation of population size, environment, health and behaviour of stray and feral cats in Vienna. UFAW International Animal Welfare Science Symposium, July 14-15 2015, Zagreb, Croatia (Abstract).

Arhant C, Wogritsch R, Troxler J (2015): Assessment of behavior and physical condition of shelter cats as animal-based indicators of welfare. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 10, 399-406. 

Arhant C, Troxler J (2014): Approach behaviour of shelter dogs and its relationships with the attitudes of shelter staff to dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 160, 116-126.




Working group leader Dipl.ECAWBM (AWSEL) Ines Windschnurer
T +43 1 25077-4912
E-Mail to Ines Windschnurer


Contact Dipl.ECAWBM (AWSEL) Christine Arhant
T +43 1 25077-4911
E-Mail to Christine Arhant



Ass.-Prof. Veronika Heizmann
T +43 1 25077-4915
E-Mail to Veronika Heizmann