Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Why do people feed stray cats?

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.

What did we research?
- Australia wide online survey
– Demographics
– Feeding stray cats (where, how many, how long etc.)

– Attitudes:
– about feeding stray cats
– about important others’ view of their feeding stray cats
– about perceived control over feeding stray cats

What we found:
– Semi-owners
* 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?
– Semi-ownership:
* It’s a result of benevolent beliefs
* Semi-owned cats are in good body condition
* Many semi-owned cats are tolerant of human interaction
* But….
- Semi-owned cats are in the main un-desexed
- There are estimated to be 500 000 stray cats in Victoria alone
- 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 Australia
* 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
cat welfare?
* What are the barriers to taking the next steps (responsible ownership)?
– Continuing education on semi-owned cat welfare

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