Disagreements between cat owners on their pet’s freedom allowances and conservationists concerned about wildlife killed by cats have been long-running.
To help identify solutions that allow both parties to reach agreement, the University of Exeter recently conducted research, funded by SongBird Survival to understand how UK cat owners perceive their cat’s lifestyle (be it indoor-only or free-roaming), with a focus on hunting habits. The research found that owners ranged from “conscientious caretakers” who were concerned about their cats’ effect on natural wildlife, to “freedom defenders” who opposed restrictions on cats roaming grounds/territory.
International Cat Care was invited on to the project’s advisory group to provide independent feline expertise. Commenting on the study, our Head of Cat Advocacy, Dr. Sarah Ellis says “The finding that many UK cat owners actually care a great deal about wildlife conservation and their cats’ impact on it, suggests that some owners are receptive to employing cat-friendly ways of reducing hunting. The right interventions could improve wildlife conservation efforts, maintain good cat mental-wellbeing, and, at the same time improve the cat-human relationship. This would be especially true for ‘Tolerant Guardians’ and ‘Conscientious Caretakers’, by reducing the internal conflict of loving an animal that often hunts other animals they also care about.”
The University of Exeter’s “Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife” project aims to work with cat owners to identify effective, practical means of reducing cat predation on wildlife, without compromising, and potentially enhancing cat welfare. Find out how to get involved here https://wildlifescience.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/CatProject2019.pdf
SongBird Survival, the project sponsor, is an independent, UK-wide bird charity that funds research into the decline of Britain’s songbirds. More details at https://www.songbird-survival.org.uk/