Use and perception of collars for companion cats in New Zealand

Harrod, M., Keown, A.J. and Farnworth, M.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-6226-0818, 2016. Use and perception of collars for companion cats in New Zealand. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 64 (2), pp. 121-124. ISSN 0048-0169

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Aims: To investigate public perceptions of the use of collars for companion cats in New Zealand. To understand perceptions around safety and efficacy of collar use.
Methods: An online questionnaire was distributed to members of the public via social media. The questionnaire collected details of respondents, cat ownership status, and responses to a number of questions regarding collar use in cats. Data were analysed using SPSS analytical software v21.0 for Windows (IBM Inc., Chicago IL, USA). Results were considered significant if p≤0.05.
Results: A total of 512 responses were collected, 393 (76.9%) respondents reported owning at least one cat at the time of survey, of which 141 (36.4%) stated that at least some of their cats wore collars and 211 (54%) had at least one of their cats micro-chipped. Of the respondents with a pet cat, 351 (90%) allowed their cats outdoor access at least some of the time. Respondents 20 used collars for identification, and to reduce predation of birds and other animals. Reasons for not using collars included cat intolerance of collars, repeated collar loss and concern over collar safety. Respondents felt collars could cause injury if caught on objects, or if too tight, and many believed ‘not all cats will tolerate a collar’. Significant differences were found between cat owners and non-owners regarding whether cats were important for pest control; whether cats will tolerate collars; whether being well fed influences cat hunting behaviour; whether cats should be kept indoors at night; and whether a cat without a collar was likely to be a stray. Respondents trusted veterinarians and the SPCA most as sources of pet care information.
Conclusion: Collar use for companion cats in New Zealand appeared to be low. Cat owners perceived a number of barriers to the use of collars which may be imagined, or result from incorrect use. Collars may be useful for improving animal welfare allowing rapid identification , improved rates of returns to owners and prompt medical interventions in the case of injury. Collars with attached devices such as bells are also useful to reduce the impact of domestic cats on both native and introduced wildlife, and may improve public perceptions of stray/wandering cats.
Relevance: A number of concerns have been raised in recent years about the negative impacts of cats on New Zealand’s natural environment, and the possibility of poor welfare among unowned cats. Understanding the perceived importance of cat collars and exploration of the perceived barriers to their use are vital to enhance our understanding of cat ownership, cat identification and impact of cat predation. This understanding can help to guide development of policies and practices to improve animal welfare, reduce the negative impact of pet predation, and promote responsible pet ownership.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: New Zealand Veterinary Journal
Creators: Harrod, M., Keown, A.J. and Farnworth, M.J.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Date: 2016
Volume: 64
Number: 2
ISSN: 0048-0169
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 26 Feb 2018 14:34
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 15:07

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