Outdoor fecal deposition by free-roaming cats and attitudes of cat owners and nonowners toward stray pets, wildlife, and water pollution.
Objective - To estimate cat population size, management, and outside faecal deposition and evaluate attitudes of cat owners and nonowners to stray animal control, water pollution, and wildlife protection. Design - Cross-sectional survey. Sample Population - 294 adult residents of Cayucos, Los Osos, and Morro Bay, Calif. Procedures - Telephone survey. Results - The region's cat population was estimated at 7,284 owned and 2,046 feral cats, and 38% of surveyed households owned a mean of 1.9 cats/household. Forty-four percent of cats defecated outside >75% of the time. Annual faecal deposition (wet weight) by owned cats in the 3 communities was estimated to be 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons). Cat owners were more likely to oppose cat licensing and impounding stray cats and support trap-neuter-return for stray cats and less likely to be concerned about water pollution, than were noncat owners. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Feral cats represented a sizeable proportion (22%) of the free-roaming cats in this area and could be contributing 30.0 tonnes (29.5 tons) of faeces to the environment per year. However, feral cats are not the principal source of faecal loading because owned cats defecating outdoors contribute an estimated 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons) or 72% of the annual outdoor faecal deposition.