Firstly, I have deliberately specified that this study relates to China and the reason for this will become apparent when you read the article. The title to the study has been described as sexist and discriminatory. It is entitled: Where there are girls, there are cats. The study was carried out by four Chinese scientists at the School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.
An initial problem with this study is the title and the use of the word “girls”. It appears that this may be a cultural issue because in China there seems to be a merging of the use of the word ‘girl’ and ‘woman’. Is not clear but this may be an issue. The study itself does not refer to girls but to human females and therefore includes adult females as well. It has to be said that in the West there is also a merging of the word ‘girl’ and ‘woman’ but this would not have happened in a scientific study. There may be a translation issue too.
In summary, the study concluded that where there is a preponderance of female humans, it is likely that the free-ranging feral cat population is higher than it would otherwise be if there were an equal balance of male to female humans or a preponderance of male humans.
They concluded that this is because human females are more sensitive towards cat welfare and therefore tend to feed the cats. The scientists also concluded that there may be a recognition by the cats that female humans are predisposed to feeding them which may lead to the cats illiciting assistance from female humans. They are unclear about the relationship in this respect but they posited the view that this may be happening. Can cats disintinguish between human females and males, is a fundamental question? Comment: there is no question that cats do elicit food from humans who feed them through a special meow.
The study has been criticised, as mentioned, for being sexist. That’s an interesting observation because I would argue that it can only be accused of being sexist if feeding feral cats is a negative form of human behaviour with negative consequences. You could argue that it is a positive activity because it is people caring for feral cats who need help and who should not be there in the first place. Feral cats only exists because of poor cat ownership. But the study makes it clear that feral cats are a problem with respect to their predation of wildlife. Therefore it could be argued that the study is sexist notwithstanding that it was carried out very scientifically and they found a distinct correlation between increased human female presence and increased feral cat presence at a range of universities in China.
The lead author of the study denies that it is sexist and can’t understand why “human sex cannot be discussed in a paper”. This is obviously a cultural issue and I think, as mentioned, that the study suffers from the cultural differences between the East and the West. Notwithstanding that it is an interesting study and there is almost certainly some truth in the conclusion.
However, as I understand it, the link between increased human females and increased feral cats is made because the cats are being fed i.e. cared for by female humans (students at university). However, there is no reference in this study to TNR programs; trap-neuter-release programs which are commonplace in America. And, in America, it is nearly always female volunteers who manage and conduct TNR programs. These programs actually reduce the number of feral cats not increase them. If, therefore, the human females at universities in China had combined feeding with TNR activity then the study would have come to an entirely different conclusion.
You might like to read the entire study which is quite interesting as I said. You can do so by CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW:
You will be taken to a new page. It is said that the study has been removed from the Internet because of its controversial conclusion. This appears not to be true as I found it quite easily.
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.