Coleman, G., & Coffey, M. Food for thought–why do people feed stray cats?.
What cats are we talking about?
- Semi-owned cats are stray cats that are fed by people who do not consider themselves to own the cat.
wide online survey Australia
– Feeding stray cats (where, how many, how long etc.)
– about feeding stray cats
– about important others’ view of their feeding stray cats
– about perceived control over feeding stray cats
What we found:
* Most are women
* Most are middle aged or older
* Most feed one cat daily or every few days, in their home or within their property and have done so for several months or more
* Most cats that semi-owners feed are able to be picked up or at least patted
* Can also be pet owners
– Attitudes correlated with semi-ownership:
* Benevolent attitudes about the outcomes of feeding for the cat
* Positive attitudes about outcomes for the person doing the feeding
* Belief of support from important others to semi-own
– We can predict semi-ownership based primarily on beliefs about positive outcomes of feeding (behavioural beliefs)
* These beliefs outweigh any influence other factors
Why is this knowledge important?
* It’s a result of benevolent beliefs
* Semi-owned cats are in good body condition
* Many semi-owned cats are tolerant of human interaction
- Semi-owned cats are in the main un-desexed
- There are estimated to be 500 000 stray cats in
- semi-owned cats aid in maintaining this
- Semi-owned cats have much shorter lives than responsibly owned cats
- Semi-owned cats suffer with disease and injury
– Semi-owned cats make up a significant proportion of shelter admissions
– 64,000++ unwanted cats are admitted to shelters annually in
* 60-74% of admitted cats are euthanized
Food for thought….
- Nearly ¼ of Victorians semi-own cats
- We know benevolent beliefs drive this behaviour
- We know many semi-owned cats have poor welfare
- Challenging/changing beliefs an important part of effecting change
– Could people’s benevolent attitudes be better directed to benefit semi-owned
* What are the barriers to taking the next steps (responsible ownership)?
– Continuing education on semi-owned cat welfare