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Key beliefs underlying public feeding of free-roaming cats in Malaysia and management suggestions

Davey, Gareth, Khor, Mei Mei, Zhao, Xiang
Human dimensions of wildlife 2019 v.24 no.1 pp. 1-13
cats, ecosystems, education, pet ownership, population growth, predation, wildlife, Malaysia
Public feeding of free-roaming cats subsidizes their population growth, and has consequences in highly interconnected ecosystems including predation of native wildlife and alteration of their behavior and populations. Research is needed to explain, predict, and possibly curb public feeding. We conducted a theoretically informed analysis of key beliefs underlying intentions to feed free-roaming cats in Malaysia, offering new insights as well as management suggestions. Normative beliefs had the strongest associations with behavioral intentions. Management strategies should consider social influences from families and friends of those who feed free-roaming cats, especially cat owners and their significant others. Our results also suggest key behavioral beliefs regarding disadvantages of feeding free-roaming cats could be strengthened through education and other initiatives. The findings are particularly important for Malaysia, which is biodiversity-rich but has a large free-roaming cat population and a high incidence of public feeding.