Kristyn Vitale, Ph.D.
Cat Behavior

Cat Science
Cat Training


Kristyn (Shreve) Vitale, Ph.D., is a researcher and educator in animal behavior, animal welfare, and human-animal interaction. Her main area of work focuses on companion animal behavior, specifically cat social cognition, cat behavior, and human-cat interaction.

Vitale received her PhD in Animal Science from Oregon State University. As a member of the OSU Human-Animal Interaction Lab, she researched cat social behavior and cognition, taught kitten training and socialization classes, and offered socialization opportunities for adult cats. She received a Master’s of Environmental Science from Miami University. Her Master’s thesis focused on the social behavior of free-roaming colony cats. Kristyn has served as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, a Visiting Research Fellow at Kyoto University in Japan, and a Maddie’s Postdoctoral Scholar. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Animal Health and Behavior at Unity College.

In 2014, Kristyn started maueyes as a resource on cat behavior, cat science, and cat training.  In 2019, she also created CatSci Podcast with fellow cat trainer Tori Peterson. Kristyn’s goal is to apply science to increase cat welfare and improve human-cat relationships. 

Her research and expertise in cat behavior has been internationally featured in media outlets such as:

Current Position

Assistant Professor
Animal Health & Behavior
Unity College


Ph.D., Animal Science, 2018
Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences

Oregon State University
Dissertation: Proximate factors influencing cat behavior, cognition, and the human-cat bond

M.En., Master’s of Environmental Science, 2014
Institute for the Environment and Sustainability
Miami University
Thesis: The influence of food distribution, relatedness, and subgroup membership on the social behaviour of free-roaming cats

B.A., Social Geography, 2012
Department of Geography

Kent State University

B.S., Zoology, 2011
Department of Biological Sciences
Kent State University

Select Previous Professional Experience

Animal & Rangeland Sciences
Oregon State University

Maddie’s Postdoctoral Scholar & Faculty Research Assistant
Human-Animal Interaction Lab
Oregon State University

Visiting Researcher
Cognitive Psychology

Kyoto University

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Human-Animal Interaction Lab
Oregon State University

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Institute for the Environment and Sustainability
Miami University

Assistant Instructional Designer
College of Communication and Information
Kent State University

Publications: Journal Articles 

Houser, B., & Vitale, K.R. (2022). Increasing Shelter Cat Welfare Through Enrichment: A Review. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 248: 105585. 

Vitale, K.R. (2022). The Social Lives of Free-Ranging Cats. Animals. 12(1), 126. 

Behnke, A.C., Vitale, K.R., & Udell, M.A.R. (2021). The effect of owner presence and scent on stress resilience in cats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 243: 105444.

Sipple, N., Thielke, L., Smith, A., Vitale, K.R., Udell, M.A.R. (2021). Intraspecific and Interspecific Attachment Between Cohabitant Dogs and Human Caregivers. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 61(1): 132-139.

Vitale K.R., Behnke, A.C., Udell, M.A.R. (2019). Attachment Bonds Between Domestic Cats and Humans. Current Biology, 29: R859–R865.

Wanser S.H., Vitale K.R., Thielke L.E., Brubaker L, Udell, M.A.R. (2019). Spotlight on the Psychological Basis of Childhood Pet Attachment. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 12: 469–479.

Vitale, K.R., & Udell, M.A.R. (2019). The Quality of Being Sociable: The Influence of Human Attentional State, Population, and Human Familiarity on Domestic Cat Sociability. Behavioural Processes, 158: 11-17.

Vitale, K.R. (2018). Tools for Managing Problem Feline Behaviours: Pheromone Therapy. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 20(11): 1024-1032

Vitale Shreve, K.R., Mehrkam, L.R. & Udell, M.A.R. (2017). Social Interaction, Food, Scent or Toys? A Formal Assessment of Domestic Pet and Shelter Cat (Felis silvestris catus) Preferences. Behavioural Processes, 141(3): 322–328.

Udell, M.A.R., Vitale Shreve, K.R. (2017). Editorial: Feline Behavior and Cognition. Behavioural Processes, 141(3): 259- 260.

Vitale Shreve, K.R. (2017). Cat Social Lives: Current Knowledge and Future Directions. The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants Journal, Extension Article.

Vitale Shreve, K.R., & Udell, M.A.R. (2016). Stress, Security, and Scent: The Influence of Chemical Signals on the Social Lives of Domestic Cats and Implications for Applied Settings. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 187: 69-76.

Vitale Shreve, K.R., & Udell, M.A.R. (2015). What’s Inside Your Cat’s Head? A Review of Cat Cognition Research Past, Present and Future. Animal Cognition, 18(6):1195-206.

Publications: Book Chapters

Udell M.A.R., Brubaker L., Thielke L.E., Wanser S.S.H., Rosenlicht G., Vitale K.R. (2021) Dog–Human Attachment as an Aspect of Social Cognition: Evaluating the Secure Base Test. In: Anderson J.R., Kuroshima H. (eds) Comparative Cognition. Springer, Singapore. 

Vitale, K.R. (2018). Feline Cognition. In J. Vonk, T. K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior, Springer International Publishing.

Select Awards & Accomplishments

Winner of the Brenda A. Milner Award, 2021
Winner for Outstanding Paper 

Awarded by Division 6, American Psychological Association

Fear Free Pets Award
Cat Writers’ Association, 2020 Communication Contest

Certificate of Excellence & Muse Medallion Award, Winner for Audio/Broadcast (Podcast)
Cat Writers’ Association, 2019 Communication Contest

Awarded Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Grant, 2017
National Science Foundation & Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Winner of Marian Breland-Bailey Award for Student Research & Scholarship, 2017
Winning Presentation
Applied Animal Behavior Special Interest Group, Association for Behavior Analysis International Conference

Awarded Provost’s Distinguished Graduate Fellowship 2014
Graduate School, Oregon State University

Awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2013
National Science Foundation,
Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Audio Production

Decoding Cats: Inside the Feline Mind, Audible Original Lecture Series, September, 2020
Written & Narrated by Kristyn Vitale, Published by Audible & The Great Courses

CatSci Podcast, May 2019- Present
Creator & Co-Host, Kristyn Vitale, Presented by maueyes Cat Behavior & Space Cat Academy

Select Media Coverage

Science Magazine, Cats rival dogs on many tests of social smarts. But is anyone brave enough to study them?

The New York Times, Cats Like People! (Some People, Anyway)

National Geographic, What if Everything You Think About Cats Is Wrong?

DER SPIEGEL, Katzen sind schlauer als gedacht [Cats are smarter than expected]

WIRED, Researcher Explains Why Cats May Like Their Owners as Much as Dogs

The Washington Post, Shocker: Some cats like people more than food or toys

PBS NOVA, Study finds kittens bond with their human caregivers like babies do

Scientific American, What’s Going On in Your Cat’s Head?

Time, Cats Care About People More Than Food, New Study Finds

The Wall Street Journal, There Is Now Scientific Proof Your Cat Is Ignoring You

Reader’s Digest, 20 Things You Do That Your Cat Actually Hates


Email: maueyes.catresearch [at] 
maueyes Instagram 
maueyes YouTube
CatSci Podcast YouTube






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This material is based upon work supported by the the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. (1314109-DGE). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.