Research into attitudes about pet cats
Zealandia’s impact on Wellington’s biodiversity is evident from species such as kākā, tūī and kererū spreading out across the city. These results wouldn’t be possible without the hard mahi of our community, including things like trapping, planting and responsible pet ownership.
Responsible pet ownership means meeting all your pet’s needs to allow them to carry out their natural behaviours in a safe way, including providing them with a safe home, nutritious food, and activities – everything they need to be happy and healthy. Cats are one of the most popular pets in Wellington, but cat care and ownership behaviours can vary widely. Earlier this year, Clemency Martell-Turner, a Master’s student at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington, conducted a survey examining motivations and barriers for different cat ownership behaviours.
Clemency’s research found that nearly 20% of the cat-owners surveyed kept their cats on their property all the time, while an additional 50% aspired to keep their cat inside/on property at night. The most commonly reported motivations for containment were cat safety (56% of responses) and to reduce hunting of native wildlife (35%). On the other hand, the most common reasons given for not keeping a cat on their property were a belief that their cat was not a threat to wildlife when outside (34%), cat welfare (27%), logistical difficulties (17%).
Cats are a tricky subject in conservation. As mammalian predators, they can cause harm like rats or hedgehogs in New Zealand ecosystems. However, they are also much-loved pets. This makes the need for responsible pet ownership so important. While perspectives on cat ownership in the survey differed among groups, the research supports the fact that Wellingtonians care about our city’s native wildlife as well as the health and welfare of our feline friends.