Study: There Are 5 Types Of Cat Owners

When it comes to attitudes about hunting and impact on local wildlife, there are five broad categories of cat owners, a new study says.

Four out of the five aren’t particularly worried about their cats killing birds and small mammals, the University of Exeter researchers wrote in the study, which was published in Frontiers In Ecology and the Environment, a research journal.

  1. Concerned Protector. These are people who keep their cats indoors to keep them safe from the world. Their main worries are cats being stolen, lost or killed. They don’t have strong feelings about hunting behaviour and wouldn’t keep their cats indoors solely to stop them hunting.
  2. Freedom Defenders believe cats should be able to roam where they please, like wild animals. Cats hunting is a good sign of normal behaviour and helps control the rodent population. They oppose any restrictions of cat access to the outdoors.
  3. Tolerant Guardians believe that the benefits of roaming outweigh the risks of the cat being injured or lost. They love wildlife and cat hunting is the least attractive part of cat ownership, but it is just what cats do. They’re not sure how cat owners can effectively reduce hunting behaviour.
  4. Conscientious Caretakers believe cats should have access to the outdoors but they don’t oppose some containment. Hunting by cats really bothers them, and they particularly worry about birds. They believe owners should have have some responsibility managing their cat’s hunting behaviour.
  5. Lasseiz-faire landlords believes it’s natural for cats to want to go out into the natural world and if they fall foul of it (dogs, bigger cats, SUVs) that’s natural too. They’ve never seriously thought about the effects of cats on wildlife populations. They’d be more likely to manage their cat’s hunting behaviours if it was killing things all the time.

You can take a short quiz (16 multiple choice questions) to find out what kind of cat caretaker you are. For what it’s worth, the quiz says I’m a “conscientious protector,” which sounds about right.

cat-predation

In his mind, of course, Buddy is a fierce, powerful feline and a mighty hunter. In reality he’s hilariously inept at the hunting games we play, and no matter how many times I’ve brought him outside on his harness, he goes into sensory overload every time, spending the first 20 minutes nervously huddled before he relaxes, his tail shoots up and he starts to enjoy the new sights and smells.

Fortunately I don’t have to deal with a cat who pines for the outdoors. Bud has no desire to go out there on his own, and he won’t even step onto the balcony if it’s too hot, too cold, raining, snowing or especially windy.

Most of all it’s too dangerous out there between traffic, potential predators like coyotes, train tracks, other cats and people who will abuse or kill cats just because they can. I don’t want to lose my little Bud.

Dear readers, if you take the test, please let us know which category it placed you in.

18 thoughts on “Study: There Are 5 Types Of Cat Owners”

  1. Concerned protector. Not a big surprise. The only time the boyz are outside of my home is when they are in a carrier and going to the vet or groomer. They have plenty of enrichment in terms of toys and we play every night after nighttime treaties.

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    1. Now I’m wondering how many people who took the quiz are classified as concerned protectors, since all of us were put that category. People in the U.K. probably belong to some of the other categories as well, since it’s so common to allow cats to roam free there.

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      1. Took it again with opposite answers and got Freedom Defender.
        The question about garden birds is sort of a tip-off? Maybe because I’m a city dweller and the garden birds here are pigeons.

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      2. Yeah I felt like the survey didn’t leave much room for middle ground. I’m sure there are lots of us who aren’t necessarily birders, but we still don’t want to see our cats kill birds.

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  2. I too am a concerned protector. I am very lucky that my princess has no desire to go out. By dumb luck I ended up in a hand built log lodge with a three-sided chimney, so she has plenty of stimuli indoors.

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      1. Nothing that sophisticated but pretty awesome in its own way. It is entirely hand made. I’m in my aunt’s house and I am her live-in caregiver. Not a place I would choose for myself, but my cat loves it! So, like I said: dumb luck.

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  3. Concerned protector here…and the herd will always be safely kept indoors, and their instincts stimulated with toys, play, open but pet screened windows and perches/towers/trees.

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    1. I think that’s the key, stimulating their instincts as you said. Some people think cats are the lowest-maintenance pets since you don’t have to walk them, but playing with them and giving them outlets for their instincts and energy is really important.

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  4. I took the quiz and am a Concerned Protector. I live in a rural area on a busy road so my cats are kept inside always. They hunt cockroaches and the occasional mouse or rat that get inside the house (does happen) but otherwise their hunting is limited. I have had the youngest two cats since they were 4 weeks old so never been outside and probably wouldn’t know what to do although there is a screened porch where they can get fresh air and watch the birds. One accidentally got outside when a screen fell out and I rushed to get him to find him trying to figure out how to get back inside. These are more snuggle bugs than hunters!

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    1. I feel the same way, Bud wouldn’t know what to do if he came across a prey animal. I’m sure he’d be interested, and if he was past the usual 20 minutes of initial sensory overload from being outside he would watch and maybe even stalk a bit. But he has never hunted a real animal in his life and to him, food is soft pate placed in front of him, not the raw carcass of a bird.

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  5. I am a “concerned protector” I am also incredibly fortunate that Bella has a large secure garden and we live on a road with very little traffic. Bella is a skilled huntress and very adept at catching mice… she likes to go out and has multiple cat flaps but does not go very far, we put a very small GPS tracker on her for 2 weeks and followed it on my phone, interesting to see how little she actually moves from bed to breakfast…

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      1. Hi Big Buddy. I am in London UK, we live in a very quiet road – Google Maps: London W4 3DZ – traffic on the main roads is huge (like LA…) but the smaller residential roads can be low traffic apart from the actual resident’s cars, also the roads are narrow so apart from a few total lunatics its impossible to drive fast down them (we also have speed humps and cameras with big fines for speeders), yes its is more common for our overlords to roam more freely in the UK, and Bella is very pleased with this!

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  6. Concerned Protector. I let my cats go outside, but I don’t let them roam unsupervised, and I check up on them every few minutes to make sure they haven’t left the yard. If I don’t see one, I go looking and bring them home, and if it’s too far, I put them inside. I had one cat who hunted a lot. He killed birds, baby rabbits, and garter snakes, and once ate a bunch of bees (I found out when he barfed them up). As they age, they become much more attached to the home, and no cat over age 10 has ever voluntarily left the yard.

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  7. Concerned protector I am. I tried to keep Milly inside, but her anxiety and hunting instinct is too strong. The only reason I let her outside is that she is afraid of cars, never leaves the yard and only hunts bugs. She is our chief fly killer.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Concerned Protector

    And another study I read (sorry, don’t have documentation) said that the main reason for the decline in urban bird populations is loss of habitat.

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