Kristyn’s thesis research involves kitten training and socialization. She wants to see what influence this class has on the cats and their relationships with their owners. Half of the cats are control kittens (no training classes) and the other half participate in the classes and in-home visits. Over 60 kittens between the ages of 3-8 months have participated so far. The hypothesis is that kittens that have taken the class will be better at picking up on social cues and have a stronger bond to their owner.

Kristyn’s dissertation involved cat preferences. Dr. Monique Udell and Kristyn’s research was featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, the Washington Post, and National Geographic. They found that the majority of cats preferred to interact with humans (pet, play, and vocalization) than with toys, food, or scents. 50% of the cats chose human interaction to the second most popular of choice of food at 37%. It’s been scientifically proven that cats do love their humans!

Link to Kristen's Research Site


Kristyn grew up in Kent, Ohio where she discovered her love of animals, especially cats, at a young age. Growing up she had cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, snails, hamsters, and fish. She majored in zoology due to her love of animals, but she is interested in more than just animals. She double majored in Social Geography after taking a geography class as an elective and fell in love with the course. In graduate school, she studied a colony of farm cats and what influences (such as kin and food availability) their social interactions. Kristyn is very interested in exploring animal psychology. Her research centers around unraveling the interaction between humans and cats. Kristyn has two cats named Bo and Macy.

Dream Job

Kristyn’s dream job is what she’s doing now: teach and doing research. She would love to do extension and outreach with her research, working with the public and children. She currently teaches kitten training classes for children at the Willamette Humane Society. Although she is most drawn to cats because of the lack of what’s known about their personalities, despite outnumbering dogs in US homes, she does see herself branching out to other animals like big cats. She even socialized piglets this past year!

Here’s a link to the Washington Post article