Cat homeowners are urged to maintain their pet indoors for quite a lot of causes, together with defending wildlife and stopping the unfold of illness. However our analysis has discovered a completely totally different motivator for holding cats.
Concern for his or her cat’s security is the first motive individuals hold cats inside. And individuals who enable cats to roam are additionally motivated by concern for the animal’s well-being.
Maintaining home cats correctly contained is essential to defending wildlife. Cats are pure predators – even when they’re effectively fed. Analysis final 12 months discovered every roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per 12 months.
If we wish extra home cats saved indoors, it’s essential to know what motivates cat homeowners. Our analysis suggests messages about defending wildlife are, on their very own, unlikely to vary cat homeowners’ behaviour.
Why hold your cat indoors?
Cat containment entails confining the animals to their homeowners’ premises always.
Within the Australian Capital Territory, cat containment is obligatory in a number of areas. From July subsequent 12 months, all new cats should be contained throughout the territory, except on a leash.
In Victoria, about half of native councils have some type of cat containment laws. Present revisions to Home Animal Administration Plans may imply the apply turns into extra widespread.
One cat, one 12 months, 110 native animals: lock up your pet, it is a killing machine
Cats have lengthy been a part of human societies and play an essential social function of their homeowners’ lives. However our affection for the animals means efforts to maintain cats contained could be met with opposition.
Officers, conservation teams and others put ahead a variety of causes for holding cats, together with:
stopping cats from spreading illnesses and parasites equivalent to toxoplasmosis to each individuals and wildlife
lowering threats to wildlife, particularly at evening
lowering undesirable cat pregnancies
avoiding disputes with neighbours, together with noise complaints, and cats defecating or spraying in backyard beds and youngsters’s sandpits
defending cats from harm or dying – equivalent to being hit by a automobile, attacked by canines, snake chunk and publicity to illnesses and parasites.
So which argument is most persuasive? Our analysis suggests it’s the latter.
What we discovered
We surveyed 1,024 individuals in Victoria – 220 of whom have been cat homeowners.
We discovered 53% of cat homeowners didn’t enable roaming. These individuals have been extra prone to maintain issues about dangers to cats’ security than cat homeowners who allowed roaming. They have been additionally much less prone to consider cats have a proper to roam.
Some 17% of cat homeowners allowed their cats unrestricted entry to the outside day and evening, whereas 30% contained their cats at evening however allowed some unrestricted outside entry throughout the day.
Each cat homeowners and different respondents typically believed cat homeowners ought to handle their pet’s roaming behaviour. However for cat homeowners, concern about hurt to wildlife was not a major predictor of containment behaviour.
As a substitute, individuals who hold their cats contained have been extra prone to be anxious that their cat is perhaps misplaced, stolen, injured or killed.
It’s not that cat homeowners don’t care about native animals – solely about one in ten cat homeowners stated they’d by no means critically thought-about how their cat impacts wildlife. However our survey outcomes present this isn’t a giant motivation for conserving cats indoors.
Roaming is harmful
A roaming way of life could be dangerous to cats. A 2019 research of greater than 5,300 Australian cat homeowners discovered 66% had misplaced a cat to a roaming incident equivalent to a automobile accident or canine assault, or the cat merely going lacking.
Regardless of the dangers, individuals who let their cats roam usually tend to assume the apply is best for the animal’s well-being – for instance, that looking is regular cat behaviour.
House owners who let their cat roam have been extra possible than those that contained their cat to consider their cat didn’t typically hunt. Whereas not all cats kill wildlife, people who do usually solely carry residence a small proportion of their catch. Which means homeowners could be unaware of their cats’ influence.
Avenue life ain’t simple for a stray cat, with most dying earlier than they flip 1. So what’s one of the best ways to cope with them?
Cat homeowners should be made conscious of the dangers of roaming and geared up with the instruments to maintain their cats completely happy and protected at residence. Sadly, analysis exhibits many Australian cat homeowners should not offering the protected surroundings and stimulation their cat wants when contained.
Cat containment doesn’t need to imply conserving the animal completely in the home – nor does it require constructing them a Taj Mahal on the patio.
Cats could be exterior whereas supervised or walked on leash. You too can cat-proof your yard fence to maintain them in.
Sources equivalent to Secure Cat Secure Wildlife assist homeowners meet their cat’s psychological, bodily and social wants whereas conserving them contained.
Altering containment behaviour
Our research exhibits cat containment campaigns could be simpler if messaging appeals to homeowners’ concern for his or her cats’ well-being. These messages could possibly be delivered by trusted individuals equivalent to vets.
Serving to homeowners perceive that cats’ wants could be met in containment, and giving them the instruments to realize this, could also be one of the best ways to guard wildlife.
Demonising cats is just not the reply. The main target should shift to the advantages of containment for cats’ well-being if we hope to realize a cat-safe and wildlife-safe future.
I’ve all the time puzzled: can I flush cat poo down the bathroom?
Lily van Eeden works for the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Analysis and is affiliated with ICON Science (RMIT College) and BehaviourWorks Australia (Monash College).
Emily McLeod works for Zoos Victoria, a not-for-profit zoo-based conservation organisation.
Fern Hames and Zoe Squires don’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that will profit from this text, and have disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.