Cat ownership perception and caretaking explored in an internet survey of people associated with cats

Zito, Sarah, Vankan, Dianne, Bennett, Pauleen, Paterson, Mandy and Phillips, Clive J. C. (2015) Cat ownership perception and caretaking explored in an internet survey of people associated with cats. PL o S One, 10 7: 1-21. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133293


Author Zito, Sarah
Vankan, Dianne
Bennett, Pauleen
Paterson, Mandy
Phillips, Clive J. C.
Title Cat ownership perception and caretaking explored in an internet survey of people associated with cats
Journal name PL o S One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2015-07
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0133293
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 7
Start page 1
End page 21
Total pages 21
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Abstract People who feed cats that they do not perceive they own (sometimes called semi-owners) are thought to make a considerable contribution to unwanted cat numbers because the cats they support are generally not sterilized. Understanding people’s perception of cat ownership and the psychology underlying cat semi-ownership could inform approaches to mitigate the negative effects of cat semi-ownership. The primary aims of this study were to investigate cat ownership perception and to examine its association with human-cat interactions and caretaking behaviours. A secondary aim was to evaluate a definition of cat semi-ownership (including an association time of ≥1 month and frequent feeding), revised from a previous definition proposed in the literature to distinguish cat semi-ownership from casual interactions with unowned cats. Cat owners and semi-owners displayed similar types of interactions and caretaking behaviours. Nevertheless, caretaking behaviours were more commonly displayed towards owned cats than semi-owned cats, and semi-owned cats were more likely to have produced kittens (p<0.01). All interactions and caretaking behaviours were more likely to be displayed towards cats in semi-ownership relationships compared to casual interaction relationships. Determinants of cat ownership perception were identified (p<0.05) and included association time, attachment, perceived cat friendliness and health, and feelings about unowned cats, including the acceptability of feeding unowned cats. Encouraging semi-owners to have the cats they care for sterilized may assist in reducing the number of unwanted kittens and could be a valuable alternative to trying to prevent semi-ownership entirely. Highly accessible semi-owner “gatekeepers” could help to deliver education messages and facilitate the provision of cat sterilization services to semi-owners. This research enabled semi-ownership to be distinguished from casual interaction relationships and can assist welfare and government agencies to identify cat semi-owners in order to develop strategies to address this source of unwanted cats.
Keyword Free roaming cats
Feral domestic cats
Shelter practices
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
 
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