Odering the Feral Cat: Stakeholder Perspectives on Cat Overpopulation
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Geography Honors Theses; 2011
This paper discusses the historical and cultural ways in which people attempt to order the domestic cat both spatially and conceptually, with special attention to how this ordering influences perceptions of feral cats. Feral cats are unowned or semi-owned and live entirely unconfined to a home, making them a large focus of debate regarding the cat’s overpopulation. There is little agreement on how to classify feral cats, whether they pose a problem, and what to do about it if they are a problem. This research documents the positions taken by different Columbus-based stakeholders regarding feral cat population issues. I conducted interviews with representatives of local organizations and analyzed materials on their websites in order to understand what stakeholders identify as the problem with feral cats and the solutions they view as most appropriate. From these data, I identify four discrete stakeholder positions, each of which contains valid and legitimate perspectives about domestic cats and, more generally, the role of animals in the urban environment: feral Autonomy, cat abandonment, nuisance animal, and wildlife conservation. When compared, the ways in which these positions differ highlight the points of controversy surrounding the impacts of cats outdoors, the ‘wild’ characteristic of ferals, what qualifies as humane treatment, and what methods of control are most effective. Likewise, the ways in which these positions overlap provide the grounds for tendering a hypothetical way forward for stakeholders to work collaboratively at education campaigns, legislative adjustments, allocating funds for affordable spay/neuter programs, reducing cat abandonment, and managing feral/stray cat colonies.
Honors Distinction in Research within Geography