The effects of demographics and pet ownership on attachment towards and opinion about owned and unowned free-roaming cats
Ramon, Melanie Elaine
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A telephone questionnaire was developed to collect information on pet owners, cat ownership patterns, and people's opinions about homeless pets. A 7-day observation log was also developed to gather information about free-roaming cats in Caldwell, TX. The objectives of this research were: (1) to evaluate the reliability of the telephone questionnaire, (2) to assess general cat ownership patterns, (3) to evaluate attachment level of pet owners to their pets, (4) to determine general opinions about free-roaming cats, (5) to determine if demographics were associated with opinions about free-roaming cat and dog problems and (6) to investigate free-roaming cat activity in a community. Telephone questionnaire information collected from 100 subjects was tested for reliability. Reliability was fair to good for cat level questions (sex, age, breed, length of time owned, indoor/outdoor status, litter, number of vet visits, vaccinated). Reliability was good for questions concerning subjects' knowledge of cat and dog behavior and levels of attachment to their pets. Reliability was excellent for all household level (demographic) variables. Reliability was moderate for questions regarding subjects' opinions about homeless animals. Telephone questionnaire responses collected from 441 subjects were checked for associations using exploratory logistic and linear regression models. A cat's role as a pet, vaccination status, and the length of time owned were associated with a cat's sterilization status. A cat's role as a pet was associated with the cat's indoor/outdoor status. Household size, education level and ethnicity of the owner were associated with cat ownership. Having children was associated with a negative opinion about homeless cats. Education level was associated with subjects' knowledge about dog and cat behavior. Gender, household size, and knowledge score were associated with subjects' attachment to their pets. Descriptive information on free-roaming cat activity was collected from 21 subjects using the 7-day observation log. Subjects made 382 cat sightings during the study period. Slightly more cat sightings were made during the morning than in the evening and afternoon. Most cats were spotted in neighborhoods and were resting or eating. Most of these cats that were eating were seen during the morning or evening hours.