Can Responsible Ownership Practices Influence Hunting Behavior of Owned Cats?: Results from a Survey of Cat Owners in Chile

Animals (Basel). 2019 Sep 29;9(10):745. doi: 10.3390/ani9100745.


The domestic cat (Felis catus) has become a worldwide threat to wildlife. The potential impact of owned cats on wildlife in Chile has not been documented at a large scale. The purpose of this study was to investigate the number and type of prey that owned cats bring back in Chile and its relation with responsible ownership practices. An online survey was distributed to 5216 households that included questions about the type of pet, responsible ownership practices, and in the case of cats, the type of prey they brought home. Descriptive statistics as well as univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis were applied. The results showed that 94.3% of respondents had a pet, and from these, 49.9% had at least one cat. A total of 84.1% of owners reported that their cats had brought back prey. Birds were the most common type of prey, followed by mammals and insects. Not being registered with a microchip, not having a litter box, living in a house with access to a garden, not having a hiding place for the cats, and having free access to the outdoors significantly increased the odds of cats bringing back prey. Body condition score or providing ad libitum food to cats did not have an effect on bringing prey.

Keywords: Felis catus; hunting behavior; owned cat; prey; responsible ownership; wildlife.