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ABSTRACT OF THE WEEK

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI
Volume 13 | Issue 6 (March 2023)

Attitudes and Beliefs of a Sample of Australian Dog and Cat Owners towards Pet Confinement.

Animals (Basel). March 2023;13(6):.
Jacquie Rand1, Zohre Ahmadabadi2, Jade Norris3, Michael Franklin4
1 School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.; 2 Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, QLD 4069, Australia.; 3 Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, QLD 4069, Australia.; 4 School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.

Abstract

Most cats and dogs entering Australian animal shelters and municipal facilities are classed as strays, typically from low socio-economic areas. Contemporary practices increasingly focus on proactively reducing the number of stray animals, which requires further understanding of factors associated with straying animals, including pet confinement. Australian cat and dog owners (n = 2103) were surveyed to investigate attitudes towards four types of pet confinement and how these were influenced by social norms, demographics and concerns about pet quality of life and potential wildlife predation. Dog owners showed the strongest support for confining dogs to the owners' property whenever unsupervised (98% agreement) and less support for confining dogs inside the house at night (54% agreement), and only 23% believed dogs had a negative impact on wildlife. Cat owners showed the strongest support for confining cats inside the house at night (89% agreement). Cat owners' non-supportive attitudes towards cat confinement were partly because of higher concern for cat quality of life and lower concern about their cats' predation behaviours, compared to non-cat owners. The findings provide valuable information to inform more effective strategies to reduce stray animals which would reduce shelter admissions, euthanasia, costs, nuisance issues, potential wildlife predation and negative mental health impacts of euthanasia on staff. Strategies to reduce strays include assisting low-income pet owners to install effective fencing and programs to increase identification. Informing cat owners about bedtime feeding is recommended to assist with night containment, and providing high-intensity free sterilization of owned and semi-owned cats targeted to areas of high cat impoundments is also recommended.

Keywords
animal shelter; confinement; containment; mental health; pet cat; pet dog; semi-owned cat; sterilization; stray; wildlife;

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