The overpopulation of free-roaming domestic cats is fuelled by uncontrolledbreeding of both owned and unowned populations, and has been identified as aparticular problem in socio-economically deprived areas. Consequently, forsustainable change, it is recommended that Trap-Neuter-Return activities arelinked with community engagement to encourage positive behaviours towardscats, such as reporting unowned cats for neutering. This paper assesses theacceptability and impact of a community-partnership program called “BulwellCat Watch” (BCW), set-up to control cat numbers in Bulwell, UK.
A series of surveys were developed to assess the impact of the BCW on humanbehaviour within the community, specifically the reporting of unowned cats forneutering. A cross-sectional survey was administered to 478 people to evaluatewhether any change in behaviour towards unowned cats in the community waslinked to awareness of BCW. A pre-post survey was administered to 21 peoplewho had been previously surveyed in 2016 to evaluate the effects of directengagement efforts by BCW on the knowledge and behaviour of individuals overtime. A third questionnaire was administered to 34 residents of Bulwell thatwere known to actively engage or volunteer with BCW to evaluate the individualbenefits and outcomes of taking a more proactive role in BCW.
This study found significant associations between awareness of BCW and anincreased likelihood of reporting unowned cats now when compared to previousyears. Respondents reported increased self-efficacy and confidence to helpcats. The pre-post study corroborated these findings with residentssignificantly more likely to report unowned cats compared to when surveyedpre-BCW. An indirect benefit to residents engaged with the program was thepositive impact on confidence and self-esteem. Taken in combination theseresults show community partnerships can effectively engage often hard-to-reachpopulations and foster sustainable management by overcoming barriers tohelping cats, alongside the potential for wider community benefits.
McDonald JL, Clements J (2019) Engaging with socio-economically disadvantagedcommunities and their cats: Human behaviour change for animal and humanbenefit. Animals 9:175.
Source: RSPCA Science Update
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