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Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Free-roaming Cats

Free roaming cats continue to be one of the most challenging animal welfare issues facing communities throughout the United States. The focus of this research is to understand attitudes towards free-roaming cats among individuals living in Ohio with a particular emphasis on examining the differences between different demographic groups cat owners vs. non-cat owners.

Cats have surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in the United States, but despite this national popularity, there is still considerable controversy towards free-roaming cats. A free-roaming cat is defined as a cat living outdoors at least part of the time. This may be a pet cat that is allowed to spend time outdoors, a lost or abandoned owned cat, a tame un-owned cat, or a feral cat. A great deal of attention has been given over the last two decades to managing free-roaming cat populations, in particular feral cats.

Unfortunately the growing popularity of cats has also been accompanied with a rise in the number of cats entering animal shelters each year. With this increasing burden on animal shelters to handle more and more cats, controversy also continues as to whether animal control laws, such as restricting free-roaming cats and cat licensing, are the most effective way to deal with the cat overpopulation problem.

The objectives of this study were to evaluate the attitudes and perceptions towards free-roaming cats among individuals living in Ohio, and to examine differences in these attitudes and perceptions among cat owners and all others and between individuals living in different residential areas (urban, suburban and rural).

Read the University Press Release.

JAVMA Study Results

Summary Information