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Born to roam? Surveying cat owners in Tasmania, Australia, to identify the drivers and barriers to cat containment

Lynette J McLeod, Donald W Hine, Andrew J Bengsen
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2015 December 1, 122 (3): 339-44
26603046
Free-roaming domestic cats, Felis catus, are a major public nuisance in neighbourhoods across the world, and have been linked to biodiversity loss and a host of community health problems. Owners who let their cats roam, also place their cats at risk of serious injury. One management strategy that is gaining considerable support involves encouraging cat owners to contain their pets within their property. Contemporary behaviour change models highlight the importance of identifying drivers and barriers that encourage and discourage target behaviours such as cat containment. Results from a random dial phone survey of 356 cat owners in northern Tasmania identified four distinct cat containment profiles: owners who contained their cat all the time, owners who only contained their cat at night, owners who sporadically contained their cat with no set routine, and owners who made no attempt to contain their pet. Our results indicated that cat-owners' decisions to contain or not contain their cats were guided by a range of factors including owners' beliefs about their ability to implement an effective containment strategy and their views about the physical and psychological needs of their cats. The results are discussed in terms of improving the behavioural effectiveness of cat containment interventions by selecting appropriate behavioural change tools for the identified drivers and barriers, and developing targeted engagement strategies and messaging.

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