A cross-sectional survey questionnaire was developed in-house to investigate pet cat owners’ beliefs and attitudes related to the fundamental care of their pet cats. The questionnaire consisted of questions which were grouped into the following sections: (i) owners’ socio-demographics; (ii) cat(s) body weight and body condition monitoring; (iii) owners’ attitudes to cats’ dietary preferences, needs and satisfaction, (iv) owners’ perceptions of their cats’ physical exercise needs and satisfaction. The sample size of 376 was estimated to be required to represent the population of the given geographical location (Belfast, NI, UK). Hard copies of the questionnaires were distributed in January and February 2019 and in total 402 completed questionnaires were collected; questionnaires which included >20% of missing or incomprehensible responses were excluded from the database, resulting in 398 questionnaires being included in the final database. The study identified a number of socio-demographic factors associated with owners’ beliefs and attitudes that directly affect care provided to pet cats, e.g., the owner’s occupation has been identified as a factor associated with owner perception of certain cats’ behaviours, e.g., a cat brushing against the owner as food requests by their animal (Chi-Square 7.711 (df1), exact p = 0.006). Furthermore, most female respondents, aged 26–67 years and in an occupation not related to animals, reported selecting cat food based on their animal preferences (Chi-Square 10.332 (df1), exact p = 0.003). In contrast, female owners in animal and veterinary occupations were significantly more likely as compared to other respondents (Chi-Square 15.228 (df1), exact p < 0.001), to select cat food based on its perceived health benefit to the cat. Analysis of the respondents’ opinions of cats’ abilities to self-regulate physical activity showed that owners age was the main differentiating determinant, i.e., cat owners over 25 years old were significantly more likely than younger adults to believe that pet cats can regulate their own physical activity to keep healthy (Chi-Square 6.313 (df1), exact p = 0.025). Furthermore, respondents’ opinions of their cat’s ability to self-regulate feed intake were mainly associated with owner’s education level (Chi-Square 6.367 (df1), exact p = 0.036). The study results indicated that the attitude and beliefs behind the fundamental care practices provided to pet cats depends on particular demographic factors, especially owners’ education and occupation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research received no external funding.
Financial support for this study has been provided by the School of Biomedical
Sciences, Ulster University
- pet cat owners
- pet cat welfare
- pet cat body condition
- pet cat feeding
- pet cat exercise