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Odering the Feral Cat: Stakeholder Perspectives on Cat Overpopulation

By Kyle Hutson

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This paper discusses the historical and cultural ways in which people attempt to order the domestic cat both spatially and conceptually, with special attention to how this ordering influences perceptions of feral cats. Feral cats are unowned or semi-owned and live entirely unconfined to a home, making them a large focus of debate regarding the cat’s overpopulation. There is little agreement on how to classify feral cats, whether they pose a problem, and what to do about it if they are a problem. This research documents the positions taken by different Columbus-based stakeholders regarding feral cat population issues. I conducted interviews with representatives of local organizations and analyzed materials on their websites in order to understand what stakeholders identify as the problem with feral cats and the solutions they view as most appropriate. From these data, I identify four discrete stakeholder positions, each of which contains valid and legitimate perspectives about domestic cats and, more generally, the role of animals in the urban environment: feral Autonomy, cat abandonment, nuisance animal, and wildlife conservation. When compared, the ways in which these positions differ highlight the points of controversy surrounding the impacts of cats outdoors, the ‘wild’ characteristic of ferals, what qualifies as humane treatment, and what methods of control are most effective. Likewise, the ways in which these positions overlap provide the grounds for tendering a hypothetical way forward for stakeholders to work collaboratively at education campaigns, legislative adjustments, allocating funds for affordable spay/neuter programs, reducing cat abandonment, and managing feral/stray cat colonies.

Spencer CW Au

Date 2011
Publisher Ohio State University
Location of Publication Columbus, OH
URL http://hdl.handle.net/1811/48322
Language English
University Ohio State University
Subject Location Columbus, Ohio
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Cats
  5. Discourse
  6. Feral animals
  7. Imagination
  8. Mammals
  9. overpopulation
  10. Pet ownership
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. Physical environment
  13. stakeholders
  14. urban areas
  15. Wild animals
  16. Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation