Unwanted cats surrendered to nonhuman animal shelters are generally categorized as either “owned” or “stray.” This classification is misleading because “stray” cats may include many “semiowned” cats, for which people provide care but who are not perceived as being owned. This differentiation is important because effective strategies designed to reduce cat admissions to, and euthanasia rates in, shelters rely on accurate information about cat populations contributing to shelter intake; cat semiowners will likely respond to different strategies than people with no relationship with the cats they surrender. People surrendering cats to four Australian animal shelters were surveyed to identify factors associated with perception of ownership. Many self-classified nonowners had fed the cats they surrendered, often for a considerable period of time. The factor most strongly associated with ownership perception was an increasing association time with the cat. These findings confirm that enduring relationships between surrenderers and cats, consistent with cat semiownership, are common for cats surrendered to Australian animal shelters. This finding should be taken into account when planning education messages and cat population management strategies aimed at reducing cat admissions.
|Publication Title||Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science|
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