The hunting and killing of wildlife by domestic cats is becoming a major problem across the globe. One British university has carried out a study to see the effect that pet owners' attitudes have on the predatory potential of their pets.
The argument goes that cat owners’ behavior has a large effect on how likely their cat is to be hunting and roaming. Although the number of animals killed by each individual cat is quite small, with 10 million cats owned in the UK alone, the overall effect they can have on local wildlife populations cannot be ignored.
#Cat owners fall into five categories in terms of their attitudes to their pets’ roaming and hunting, according to a new study🐈🐱https://t.co/sR899hw5RLRead the full paper @ESAFrontiers: https://t.co/YcKxqUOjXx pic.twitter.com/7ycAyEtOhfSeptember 3, 2020
In the study, the researchers identified five types of cat owners, all with differing perspectives on the problem. So which one are you?
1. Concerned Protector
It’s a mean world out there
You keep your cat indoors to keep them safe, to prevent them from being lost, stolen or killed. This isn’t necessarily to prevent the cat from hunting, but more about protecting your cat’s welfare.
2. Freedom Defender
It’s what they do in the wild
You feel it’s a cat’s right to go out hunting and roaming wherever they please. You would never restrict your cat from leaving the house and feel your cat is doing its part in reducing rodent populations.
3. Tolerant Guardian
You have to let cats live their own life
You worry about the bad aspects of your cat hunting animals but feel this is just what cats do. You are also slightly worried about your cat getting injured or lost, but think the benefits your cat gets from hunting and roaming free outweigh the risks.
4. Conscientious Caretaker
Won’t someone think of the cute animals and birdies?
You feel actively responsible for your cat’s impact on local wildlife. You let your cat go outside sometimes, but also keep them in as you are worried about what your cat gets up to when they are out and about.
5. Laissez-faire Landlord
It’s fine to let your cat come and go
You aren’t even aware there is a problem with your cat going out hunting and are happy to let your cat do what it likes. If your cat hunts, that’s natural. If your cat gets hurt, that’s part of life too.
Although you may recognize certain aspects of yourself in each category, the lines are blurred with most cat owners. However, this study is an important first step in recognizing the different attitudes out there.
The researchers hope that, by identifying the main thrusts, they can find common ground and determine best practice for cat owners to achieve a balance between allowing their cats to hunt and protecting wildlife.
Sadly, as the study is still in its early days, you may still be finding little presents on your pillow for some time to come.
Jamie Middleton is a freelance editor and writer - or at least he is when he is permitted to by his cat Pirate, who enjoys the warmth of laptops too much to allow being creative to get in the way.
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