A study which appears to have been organised by the website The Conversation found that the reason why 53% of cat owners living in the Australian state of Victoria kept their cats inside was to protect their cat and not wildlife. Cat caregivers were also less likely to believe that domestic cats have a right to roam freely. I would like to comment on that right away before delving a bit deeper into the results of the study.
Protecting the person
I’m going to say that what the study didn’t discuss might be as important, namely that when Australian cat owners keep their cats inside to protect their cats, they are also protecting themselves. They’re protecting their emotional state. If your cat is killed on the roads, for example, it is a very difficult time. It is highly distressing. It is an event that severely impacts your life and troublesome in terms of disrupting one’s lifestyle.
You might have lost your cat and therefore you have to find him. You find out that he has been killed on the road or attacked by a predator. Or your cat has been injured and you have to take him to a veterinarian. All these aspects of cat death relating to outside cat wanderings are difficult to deal with by the owner.
I’m going suggest that if you go back one step you could argue that people keep their cats indoors to protect their cat which in turn protects them from the stress of losing their cat outside. Ultimately, it might be argued that the selfish human is more concerned about his or her well-being than their cat. And this is a point that I think the study misses. The two aspects; protecting cat and person merge. You can’t disentangle them.
Note: I mentioned ‘ Cat caregivers were also less likely to believe that domestic cats have a right to roam freely’. What does that tell us? It tells me that the they have another agenda: to protect themselves from the emotional distress of knowing (and seeing) your cat was killed on the road.
Are Australian cat owners typical?
Another point worth making is that any studies in Australia about cat ownership might not be completely typical of the rest of the developed world. That’s because it is a country where cat confinement under local laws is far more likely to be in place than anywhere else. This is because the Austrian authorities want to protect wildlife. And it is ironic that the authorities demand that cat owners keep their cats inside at all times while cat owners do it to protect their cat (and themselves). The objectives are completely different between the citizens of Australia and the governments.
The study also found that 17% of cat caregivers allow their cats unrestricted access to the outside 24/7. And there is an intermediate group who kept their cats inside at night (30% of individuals).
Clash of objectives
It must be disappointing to the authorities that protecting wildlife is not the major motivator or a motivator at all in keeping cats indoors at all times by the cat owning citizens of the state of Victoria, Australia.
Outside is dangerous for cats
And The Conversation website probably tells us what we already know that allowing a cat outside is potentially dangerous. They referred to a 2019 study which concluded that 66% of a total of 5,300 cat owners had lost their cat because they were outside e.g., they were hit by a car or attacked by a dog. That’s a very high percentage at two thirds of the total cat ownership. That seems, to me, to be higher than normal. Is that the ‘Australian effect’ again?
It is been suggested, therefore, that if the authorities want people to keep the cats inside, as they do, they should run campaigns about cat safety and protecting them from outside dangers rather than emphasising the need to protect wildlife because of predation by domestic cats.
Link to the study entitled: Putting the cat before the wildlife: Exploring cat owners’ beliefs about cat containment as predictors of owner behavior by Lily M. van Eeden, Fern Hames, Richard Faulkner, Andrew Geschke, Zoe E. Squires, Emily M. McLeod.
SOME MORE ON INSIDE/OUTSIDE CATS:
More people are keeping their cats indoors full-time but are they playing with their cat more often?