Science

Cat owners’ open door policy is creating stress


More than 40 per cent of cat owners say their homes are entered by neighbourhood cats trying to gain attention, shelter, food or to attack the resident cat. 

The stress this can cause is underestimated by owners, says researcher Jon Bowen, animal behaviour consultant at the Royal Veterinary College, and as a result many opportunities to improve cats’ wellbeing are being missed. 

“In our research, owners reported that 18.7 per cent of cats with outdoor access had been attacked in their own home by someone else’s cat. The figure rose to 24.8 per cent for households that had a plain cat flap without any security features” added Jon.  

The results from the Neighbourhood Cat Campaign – which has surveyed over 1,000 cat owners and non-cat owners – has provided some fascinating insights into the secret lives of cats. It found that 41.8 per cent of those surveyed said their cat had been attacked in the garden by other cats and 36.6 per cent said their pet had been chased back into the house. But even in their-own homes cats with unsecured cat flaps were still under threat, with 39.4 per cent of these owners reporting that intruder cats stole food.

The research – led by Jon Bowen and supported by SureFlap, the microchip-operated pet door company – was prompted by concerns that dense urban cat populations were creating stress for cats. The findings will be used to help inform vets on feline behaviour in the neighbourhood, so they are better equipped to suggest remedies.

A full report of the findings from the Neighbourhood Cat Campaign can be found on the SureFlap website at www.sureflap.co.uk

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