17th July 2012, 10:03am
National survey to track what we really think of wandering cats
Cats in the Community survey poster To some people they're a nuisance, while to others they're a symbol of neighbourhood life – the wandering cat flitting nonchalantly along garden walls and fences.

Now researchers from the University of Lincoln are launching a unique study designed to gauge what the UK public really thinks about meandering moggies.

There are more than ten million cats in the UK and many are free to roam around their local communities, winding their way through streets, gardens, parks and commercial areas on their travels.

"It's really important for us to hear from the public and not make assumptions about what we think the majority think about this issue. This is a one-off opportunity for people to be heard on this matter. Sometimes a minority group can start to shout about their opinion and whip up a frenzy, so that people start to think this is the majority view. Unfortunately, this can impact on the decisions made by well-meaning individuals and those responsible for relevant legislation, with regrettable results," said Professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences, the country's first specialist in veterinary behavioural medicine, who is leading the project.

The survey, the first of its kind in the UK, will help to quantify and qualify risks that cats face when out and about. The researchers welcome responses from people who do not own cats as well as people who do.

Kevin Mahon, Feline Friends Cat Welfare Scholar at the University of Lincoln, who is working with Professor Mills on the study, said: "By nature cats are inquisitive, predatory and territorial animals, so it's no surprise that they satisfy those instincts by wandering around our neighbourhoods. This behaviour can also expose them to risks though, and in this study, we’re hoping to gain a better understanding of just what those risks are. The findings will be extremely important to our ongoing research into companion animal welfare and we'd greatly appreciate the help of members of the public in completing our survey."

There are two versions of the survey available online, one for cat owners: www.surveymonkey.com/s/UOLCatOwners and one for non cat owners: www.surveymonkey.com/s/UOLNonCatOwners

For further information contact Kevin Mahon, Feline Friends Cat Welfare Scholar at the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences, on: kmahon@lincoln.ac.uk
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