Kristyn Vitale, PhD, CAAB
Cat Behavior

Cat Science
Cat Training


Kristyn (Shreve) Vitale is a researcher and educator in animal behavior, animal welfare, and human-animal interaction. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Animal Health and Behavior at Unity Environmental University (formally known as Unity College) and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB).

She received a Master’s in Environmental Science from Miami University and a Ph.D. in Animal Science from Oregon State University (OSU). During her graduate career she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Visiting Research Fellow at Kyoto University. She also served as a Maddie’s Postdoctoral Scholar and a Faculty Research Assistant in the OSU Human-Animal Interaction Lab.

Kristyn’s research interests include cross-cultural comparisons of human-animal interactions, factors that impact animal social behavior, human-animal attachment relationships, animal learning and training, and ways to improve the welfare of captive and companion animals.

Her main area of research is focused on cat social behavior, human-cat interactions, and the impact of life experiences, such as cat training and socialization classes, on cat cognition and the cat-human relationship. Her research and expertise in cat behavior has been internationally featured in media outlets such as National Geographic, Science Magazine, BBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and DER SPIEGEL. Her work has also been featured in film documentaries such as How the Cat Conquered the World (ARTE France) and Inside the Mind of a Cat (Netflix).

In addition to her work with cats, she has also supported research into dog-human and dog-dog attachment bonds, dog assisted interventions for children, and the impact of human socialization on domestic pig behavior.

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 Environmental University


Ph.D., Animal Science, 2018
Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences
Oregon State University
Focus: Experimental Psychology
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
Focus: Applied Ecology & Conservation

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


Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB)
Animal Behavior Society, Board Certified 2023

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

Refereed Publications 

Vitale, K. R., Frank, D. H., Conroy, J., & Udell, M. A. R. (2022). Cat Foster Program Outcomes: Behavior, Stress, and Cat–Human Interaction. Animals, 12(17), 2166. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Non-Refereed Publications

Vitale, K.R. (2022). Normal Feline Social Behavior. In E. Stelow (ed.), Clinical Handbook of Feline Behavior Medicine, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. 

Vitale, K., Windschnurer, I. Pongracz, P. (2022). Introducing the new upcoming Special Issue on the behavior of cats in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 255: 105742.

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

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.

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 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

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

See here for a list of media appearances on radio programs, podcasts, webinars, and TV.

See here for a detailed list of select media coverage & interviews.


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





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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.