A research team from the University of Exeter in the UK has identified five different types of cat owners when it comes to assessing their own cat’s hunting behavior. For this purpose, the researchers questioned 56 British cat owners.
The study was published in the journal “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment” and is entitled “Diverse perspectives of cat owners indicate barriers to and opportunities for managing cat predation of wildlife.” Which of the following types are you?
The “diligent caretakers” are concerned about the effects of cats on wildlife and feel some responsibility for their cats’ possible killing of other animals such as birds. They believe that the owner of a cat should control their cat’s hunting behavior in moderation.
Some have never thought about cats hunting – and that it could be a problem
“Freedom defenders”, on the other hand, speak out completely against restricting cat behavior. For them, the cat’s hunting behavior is a sign that the animals are doing well – and from their point of view it even ensures a natural balance of species.
For the “concerned protector”, the safety of the cats is particularly important: They worry that their cat will be run over or stolen while they are roaming around. That’s why these cats are often at home. The thought of the safety of other species is very much in the background.
The “tolerant guardians” do not like their cats hunting, but they accept it. And then there are the “laissez-faire owners” who are completely unaware of the problems associated with stray and hunting cats.
Conservation organizations have long been concerned about the number of animals killed by domestic cats. NABU reports that up to 200 million birds fall prey to hunting cats in Germany every year.
“The biggest problem for the birds are feral domestic cats,” explains NABU bird expert Lars Lachmann. “Apart from human waste, they are forced to meet practically all of their food needs by hunting small animals. If it were possible to reduce the numbers of feral domestic cats, the problem would certainly have been reduced to a tolerable level. ”Therefore, from his point of view, it would be important to neuter or sterilize free-range cats.
Solutions against cat hunting are still being sought
The current research project of the exteter team “Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife” is looking for a solution for animal welfare – one that is both good for cats and good for wild animals. The current study is a step towards understanding how cat owners view their animals and how best to handle them.
“Although we found a number of different views, most British cat owners valued their cats’ access to the outdoors and refused to keep them indoors to prevent the hunt,” said senior author Dr. Sarah Crowley from the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability at Exeter University in Cornwall.
“It is therefore unlikely that cat containment measures will find support from owners. However, the hunt was only rated positively by one of the owner types, which suggests that the rest of them may be interested in reducing it in some way. “