Attitudes of suburban Western Australians to proposed cat control legislation

J Grayson, M Calver, I Styles
Australian Veterinary Journal 2002, 80 (9): 536-43

OBJECTIVE: To determine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of cat-owners and non-owners in suburban Perth, Western Australia, on issues relating to proposed local government regulation of cat-ownership.

DESIGN: The 1,261 respondents to a mailed survey were ranked on issues regarding restrictions on cat-ownership and cat roaming (control scale), attitudes to wildlife in suburbia and putative impacts of cats on wildlife (wildlife scale), knowledge of cat behaviour and husbandry (knowledge scale) and attitudes and practices regarding cat sterilisation (sterilisation scale). Age, gender and cat-ownership status of the survey respondents were explored to see if any of these factors influenced the position of respondents on the scales.

RESULTS: Cat-owners, particularly female owners, scored significantly higher on the knowledge scale than non-owners, whilst non-owners scored significantly higher than cat-owners on the control and wildlife scales. Women were more likely to favour compulsory sterilisation of pet cats than men, but men were more willing to implement controls on cat-ownership. Age was also a significant factor, with older people more willing to implement controls. Analysis of specific questions showed that both cat-owners and non-owners agreed that there was a need for cat control legislation and supported measures such as compulsory sterilisation, registering of cats, restricting cats' ability to roam and stipulating a maximum number of cats per property. Nevertheless, both groups rejected the idea that local governments should enforce cat-free zones.

CONCLUSION: Cat legislation that avoids or educates about the contentious issue of cat-free zones should receive solid community support.

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