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, 13 April 2016

An international comparison of the attitudes of urban people regarding predation by pet cats

Hall, C. M., Adams, N. A., Bradley, J. S., Bryant, K. A., Davis, A. A., Dickman, C. R., ... & Pollock, K. H. (2016). Community Attitudes and Practices of Urban Residents Regarding Predation by Pet Cats on Wildlife: An International Comparison. PLoS One, 11(4), e0151962.

International differences in practices and attitudes regarding pet cats' interactions with wildlife were assessed by surveying citizens from at least two cities in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, China and Japan. Predictions tested were: (i) cat owners would agree less than non-cat owners that cats might threaten wildlife, (ii) cat owners value wildlife less than non-cat owners, (iii) cat owners are less accepting of cat legislation/restrictions than non-owners, and (iv) respondents from regions with high endemic biodiversity (Australia, New Zealand, China and the USA state of Hawaii) would be most concerned about pet cats threatening wildlife. Everywhere non-owners were more likely than owners to agree that pet cats killing wildlife were a problem in cities, towns and rural areas.
Cat husbandry practices in different countries. (a) Percentage of households that own one, two or more than two cats (b) Percentage of cats kept in different conditions of confinement (c) Percentage of desexed cats. (d) Percentage of cats that have ever caught vertebrate prey.
Agreement amongst non-owners was highest in Australia (95%) and New Zealand (78%) and lowest in the UK (38%). Irrespective of ownership, over 85% of respondents from all countries except China (65%) valued wildlife in cities, towns and rural areas. Non-owners advocated cat legislation more strongly than owners except in Japan. Australian non-owners were the most supportive (88%), followed by Chinese non-owners (80%) and Japanese owners (79.5%). The UK was least supportive (non-owners 43%, owners 25%). Many Australian (62%), New Zealand (51%) and Chinese owners (42%) agreed that pet cats killing wildlife in cities, towns and rural areas was a problem, while Hawaiian owners were similar to the mainland USA (20%).

Percentage agreement of cat owners (dark blue) and non-owners (light blue) in each country to eight survey items: (a) There is a need for cat legislation (b) All cats should be kept in at night time (c) Cats should be kept on their owner's property at all times (d) It is important to have wildlife in cities, towns and rural areas (e) Pet cats killing wildlife in cities, towns and rural areas is a serious problem (f) Pet cats on farms are harmful to wildlife (g) Pet cats in nature reserves are harmful to wildlife (h) Except for a cat owned by a breeder, all cats should be desexed.
Thus high endemic biodiversity might contribute to attitudes in some, but not all, countries. Husbandry practices varied internationally, with predation highest where fewer cats were confined. Although the risk of wildlife population declines caused by pet cats justifies precautionary action, campaigns based on wildlife protection are unlikely to succeed outside Australia or New Zealand. Restrictions on roaming protect wildlife and benefit cat welfare, so welfare is a better rationale.

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