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Refining Online Communication Strategies for Domestic Cat Management

By Lynette J. McLeod, Aaron B. Driver, Andrew J. Bengsen, Donald W. Hine

Category Journal Articles

Management of the domestic cat (Felis catus) relies on community members adopting appropriate management practices toward both companion and unowned (stray, free-living) animals. Getting people to change their behavior and sustain these changes over time can be a challenging process. To date, very few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of interventions aimed at changing people’s behavior toward these cats. This study provides a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of a sample of online cat management communications from 40 different organizations sourced using a general English language web search in 2014/2015. The potential effectiveness of these interventions was assessed using identified best-practice principles of behavior change and persuasive communication. Education through the provision of fact-based information to persuade individuals to change their current behaviors was the most popular behavior-change strategy (88%). Three-quarters of the interventions only scored average or below on the scales that described the ease of use and ability to promote action. Persuasive communication techniques such as commitment, prompts, goal setting, story-telling, descriptive norms, and likable and identifiable messengers were under-used. Other techniques such as the debunking of misinformation and framing of messages were not used effectively. We make suggestions on how to improve the behavioral effectiveness of cat management intervention designs.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 30
Issue 4
Pages 635-649
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2017.1370237
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Cats
  2. Human behavior
  3. persuasion