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Change the Humans First: Principles for Improving the Management of Free-Roaming Cats

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

Category Journal Articles

In Australia, free-roaming cats can be found in urban and rural areas across the country. They are inherently difficult to manage but it is frequently human behaviour that demands the most attention and is in most need of change. To the frustration of policy makers and practitioners, scientific knowledge, technological developments, and legal and institutional innovations, often run afoul of insufficient public capacity, opportunity and motivation to act. This paper demonstrates how the behavioural science literature can provide important insights into maximising the impact of free-roaming cat control activities within an ethical framework that prioritises acting “with” all stakeholders, rather than “on” stakeholders. By better understanding how human values, attitudes and beliefs are shaped, practitioners can more effectively and respectfully interact with how people interpret the world around them, make choices and behave. This literature also has much to say about why certain types of media and marketing messages elicit behaviour change and why other types fall flat. Finally, in addition to explaining the behavioural science and its implications, this review provides researchers, policy makers and engagement specialists with an inclusive, practical framework for conceptualising behaviour change and working to ensure land managers, cat owners and the general public can agree on and adopt best practices for managing free-roaming cats.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 8
Pages 16
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9080555
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Cats
  4. Interventions
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Pets and companion animals
  8. population control
  9. stray animals
  1. open access