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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Owner Perceived Behavior in Cats and the Influence of Husbandry Practices, Housing and Owner Attitudes in Sweden

Hirsch, Elin N.; Geijer, Johanna; Andersson, Maria;

Abstract

Simple Summary In this paper, we describe the results from an online survey that targeted cat owners in Sweden. The aim of the study was to investigate how owners perceived the behavior of their cats, and if the cat characteristics could influence the owner attitudes. In this study, we describe the data from 3253 cats and their owners. Less than one in five cat owners reported that they had experienced behavioral problems with their cats. Owners of cats with outdoor access reported experiencing fewer problems. However, we could not find an effect of the length of time a cat was left home alone. If owners had university level knowledge in animal behavior, we could see an effect on the perception of cat behaviors such as cats misbehaving out of spite. Many owners did not believe that cats could be trained to overcome behavior problems, and many owners also thought that cats could manage on their own. These attitudes can in the long run have negative effects on the welfare of cats. This study consisted of an online survey based on a convenience sample among cat owners in Sweden. The aim was to investigate how owner and cat characteristics influenced the perceived behavior of cats, focusing on perceived behavioral or temperamental problems. The relation between owner knowledge, the provided environment, and owner perceived behavior of 3253 pet cats were investigated. Few respondents (18%) reported behavioral or temperamental problems, and consequently 82% perceived no problem whatsoever. Fewer cats with outdoor access were reported to display behavioral or temperamental problems. However, there was no effect of the length of time a cat was left home alone. Having studied animal behavior at university level influenced the perception of some cat behaviors, but not the incidence of reporting perceived problems. Many owners did not believe that it was possible to prevent behavioral problems in cats by training (58.5%), and many owners thought that cats could manage independently on their own (66%). Attitudes like this can cause challenges in the owner-cat interactions. The perception of problems with cats will be influenced by factors relating to husbandry routines such as outdoor access, which in the future could help to implement recommendations for cat husbandry and care.

Keywords

behavior problems; cat-human relationship; domestic cat; husbandry; outdoor access

Published in

Animals

2022, volume: 12, number: 19, article number: 2664
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Geijer, Johanna
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health

UKÄ Subject classification

Zoology
Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12192664

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/119443