Reasons People Surrender Unowned and Owned Cats to Australian Animal Shelters and Barriers to Assuming Ownership of Unowned Cats

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Sarah Zito, John Morton, Dianne Vankan, Mandy Paterson, Pauleen C. Bennett, Jacquie Rand, Clive J. C. Phillips
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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Most cats surrendered to nonhuman animal shelters are identified as unowned, and the surrender reason for these cats is usually simply recorded as stray. A cross-sectional study was conducted with people surrendering cats to 4 Australian animal shelters. Surrenderers of unowned cats commonly gave surrender reasons relating to concern for the cat and his/her welfare. Seventeen percent of noncaregivers had considered adopting the cat. Barriers to assuming ownership most commonly related to responsible ownership concerns. Unwanted kittens commonly contributed to the decision to surrender for both caregivers and noncaregivers. Nonowners gave more surrender reasons than owners, although many owners also gave multiple surrender reasons. These findings highlight the multifactorial nature of the decision-making process leading to surrender and demonstrate that recording only one reason for surrender does not capture the complexity of the surrender decision. Collecting information about multiple reasons for surrender, particularly reasons for surrender of unowned cats and barriers to assuming ownership, could help to develop strategies to reduce the number of cats surrendered.


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