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Animals 2018, 8(2), 23; doi:10.3390/ani8020023

Surrenderers’ Relationships with Cats Admitted to Four Australian Animal Shelters

Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, University of Queensland, White House Building (8134), Gatton Campus, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4076, Australia
School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC 3552, Australia
Australian Pet Welfare Foundation, Kenmore, QLD 4069, Australia
Current address: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Auckland 2022, New Zealand.
Current address: Jemora Pty Ltd., Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 November 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Sheltering)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [653 KB, uploaded 9 February 2018]   |  


The surrender of cats to animal shelters results in financial, social and moral burdens for the community. Correlations of caretaking and interactions with surrendered cats were calculated, to understand more about humans’ relationships with surrendered cats and the contribution of semi-owned cats to shelter intakes. A questionnaire was used to collect detailed information about 100 surrenderers’ relationships with cats they surrendered to four animal shelters in Australia, with each surrenderer classifying themselves as being either the owner or a non-owner of the surrendered cat (ownership perception). Method of acquisition of the cat, association time, closeness of the relationship with the cat and degree of responsibility for the cat’s care were all associated with ownership perception. Many non-owners (59%) fed and interacted with the cat they surrendered but rarely displayed other caretaking behaviours. However, most surrenderers of owned and unowned cats were attached to and felt responsible for the cat. Based on these results and other evidence, a causal model of ownership perception was proposed to provide a better understanding of factors influencing ownership perception. This model consisted of a set of variables proposed as directly or indirectly influencing ownership perception, with connecting arrows to indicate proposed causal relationships. Understanding ownership perception and the contribution of semi-owned cats to shelter intake is important as these can inform the development of more targeted and effective intervention strategies to reduce numbers of unwanted cats. View Full-Text
Keywords: shelter medicine; animal welfare; cat surrender; cat relinquishment; cat semi-ownership; unwanted cat; animal shelter shelter medicine; animal welfare; cat surrender; cat relinquishment; cat semi-ownership; unwanted cat; animal shelter

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zito, S.; Paterson, M.; Morton, J.; Vankan, D.; Bennett, P.; Rand, J.; Phillips, C.J.C. Surrenderers’ Relationships with Cats Admitted to Four Australian Animal Shelters. Animals 2018, 8, 23.

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