Basic Animal Behaviour: Cats

Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you very much for enquiring about the Basic Cat Behaviour Course.

Dr Frederique Hurly, a veterinary behaviourist, and Dr Hannes Slabbert a veterinary ethologist, present this course..

The Basic Cat Behaviour Course is essentially done through correspondence. Most of the students who enrol for this course work full-time and the course is therefore designed to be done on a part-time basis.  Being a private company Ethology Academy is very flexible. As long as students communicate with us we are usually able to accommodate them in various ways should personal circumstances develop during the year making it difficult for them to continue with their studies and complete the course successfully.

The Basic Cat Behaviour Course is recommended by both the South African Board for Companion Animal Professionals ( and the Animal Behaviour Consultants of South Africa (

The Basic Cat Behaviour Course is a prerequisite for enrolling for the Advanced Cat Behaviour Course presented by Ethology Academy.

The content of the Basic Cat Behaviour course is divided into four modules:
1. Introduction and approaches to the study of animal behaviour.
    • Ethological Approach
    • Experimental or instrumental approach. (This section deals with the way animals learn and the different conditioning techniques that are used in training of animals)
    • The developmental approach (Pre-natal – Ageing, development calendar)
    • The Physiological approach (the nervous and endocrine systems as well as pheromones)
    • Social behaviour (groups, relationships, factors influencing rank, social spaces and communication)
2. Problem behaviour and possible resolutions.
    • Contextual assessment
    • Assessment by classification of behaviour problems
    • Assessment of animal welfare
    • Assessment of responsible companion animal ownership
    • Indirect approach
    • Direct approach
    • Complementary therapies
    • A report for record purposes
3. Applied cat behaviour.
    • Genetic background ( domestication and breed traits)
    • Behaviour background
    • Most common behaviour problems (such as urine marking, urinating in the house, scratching of furniture, aggression to name a few)
4. Care and welfare of cats including human-animal interaction, genetic selection for breed purposes, nutrition, exercise, training, social needs, environmental enrichment, transport, hygiene and preventative measures, handling, breeding and housing facilities.

How the course is presented
After enrolling, the student receives all the study material via registered mail. Included will be a “Student Letter” and an “Exam letter” giving detailed information on every aspect of the course. Also included will be eight assignments (two on every module). Students will receive an electronic copy of the assignments that is to be used to submit the assignments via email.

The student will be expected to submit eight assignments during the period March to October.  The assignments will be marked and returned to the students. The marks obtained for the 8 assignments constitute the year mark, which will give the student entrance to write the final examination in November. The assignments do not count towards the final mark. The assignments are not difficult, because all the answers are in the notes. It should not take more than 2 – 3 hours to complete an assignment.

During the year 6 Webinars will be presented. The student is expected to take part in these webinars. They will be held on a week day evening, so that students that work full time can attend them.

Final evaluation
A formal online examination is scheduled for the first Saturday of November. The pass mark is 50%. In order to pass the exam students will need to put in a fair amount of studying. Students are therefore advised to start well in advance with their preparation for the exams. The exam can be completed from the comfort of the student’s home or office computer or laptop.

Registration and enrolment for this course is open from 2 January to 28 February each year. If someone  would like to enrol earlier, or later during the year, please consult with our Admin. Office (See contact details, below). Course study material will be posted once proof of payment has been received. For course fees, please click on “Fee Structure”. Fees include the study material, assignments, attendance of webinars and access to the final evaluation.
Students who successfully complete the course receive a certificate. Distinctions are awarded to students who pass with a mark of 75% or higher.

How to enrol for this course:
Go to the website
  • Click on ‘Enrol"
  • Read the ‘Terms of Agreement
  • Complete and submit the enrolment form
  • Pay the appropriate fee
  • Provide Dr Frederique Hurly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with confirmation of payment

Do not hesitate to get in touch should you need more information.

Best regards
Dr Frederique Hurly
(Veterinary behaviour)
Course administrator, Ethology Academy.


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