Hunting behaviour in domestic cats: an exploratory study of risk and responsibility among cat owners.

Published online
04 Nov 2020
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Crowley, S. L. & Cecchetti, M. & McDonald, R. A.
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Detailed interviews on 48 cat owners in the United Kingdom were conducted to investigate how they feel about their pets' hunting behaviour, to find out whether or not they feel they have a responsibility to manage it and to learn about the techniques they use to reduce the amount of wildlife their pets hunt and catch. A variety of views on hunting behaviour were identified, ranging from owners who keep cats for precisely this reason (e.g. to keep down rodents on farms and rural properties), to those who were deeply concerned that their cats caused other animals to suffer or might affect wild bird populations. However, it was also found that many cat owners thought of hunting as normal and natural for cats and did not believe they had a responsibility to manage this. Owners who did want to manage their cats' hunting often had concerns about the possible cat welfare impacts of some common techniques, such as keeping cats indoors or attaching a collar with a bell. It is recommend that researchers, veterinarians and welfare and wildlife organisations work collaboratively with cat owners to find effective, acceptable management techniques that recognize and address concerns about cat welfare. It is also suggested that the management of hunting behaviour should be promoted as part of wider "responsible pet ownership" schemes in situations where hunting cats threaten vulnerable wildlife populations.

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