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Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00290

Public opinions on strategies for managing stray cats and predictors of opposition to trap-neuter and return in Brisbane, Australia

 Jacquie Rand1, 2*,  Gina Fisher1, Kate Lamb2 and Andrea Hayward1
  • 1Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Australia
  • 2School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Australia

A survey of Brisbane residents was undertaken to investigate community attitudes towards urban stray cats and their management. Surveys were distributed to 84 medical and dental practices across Brisbane City, and were completed by 305 patients and staff. Practices were targeted to achieve a sample of respondents from a representative distribution of socioeconomic backgrounds. After being informed about trap, neuter, and return (TNR) programs for management of urban stray cats, most respondents (79%), chose TNR as their preferred management strategy, while a lesser proportion (18%) expressed a preference to continue the current Brisbane City Council lethal control program (catching and culling approximately 1000 cats annually), and 3.4% selected to leave the cats alone. Differences in beliefs and attitudes towards urban stray cats as a function of demographic variables were investigated. Statistical analyses indicated that respondents who were male, older, non-cat owners, those who believed euthanasia of stray cats was humane, and that urban stray cats spread disease to humans were significantly more likely to express a preference for lethal control, as opposed to non-lethal population management. Recommendations are proposed to disseminate information to mitigate concerns or negative beliefs where warranted, based on these findings. Ultimately, findings from this study demonstrate that current Queensland legislation does not reflect public views and opinions on stray cat management and should be reviewed. Formal research evaluating the efficacy of TNR programs for urban stray cats in Australia would be in the public interest.

Keywords: TNR program, urban stray cat, Sterilize, Euthanasia, Public opinions

Received: 13 Aug 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Geoffrey Wandesforde-Smith, University of California, Davis, United States

Reviewed by:

Judith L. Stella, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA), United States
Susan Hazel, University of Adelaide, Australia  

Copyright: © 2018 Rand, Fisher, Lamb and Hayward. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jacquie Rand, Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Brisbane, Australia, jacquie@petwelfare.org.au