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A bias against stray cats in shelters?

Dybdall K, Strasser R. Is there a bias against stray cats in shelters? People’s perception of shelter cats and how it influences adoption time.  ANTHROZOÖS. 2014 Dec; 28(4):603-614.

Adoptability is a determination that many shelters face in rehoming cats. These investigators examined whether entry type and perceived social behavior influenced adoption times and perceived adoptability.

In study 1, they used archival data from 1,089 cats in a Midwest shelter and found that owner-surrendered cats were adopted significantly sooner than stray cats. In study 2, they further explored the difference between owner-surrendered and stray cats by measuring the social behavior of 56 shelter cats and their time before adoption. Similarly, they found in this sample that owner-surrendered cats were adopted on average nine days sooner than stray cats. Finally, in study 3, they used an on-line survey to present 12 dual-image pictures of cats and manipulated whether the information about the cat listed each as owner-surrendered or stray cat. They asked 120 college students to rate their likelihood of adopting each pictured cat. When participants were asked about reasons they would adopt a particular cat, 81% reported friendly behavior toward them; yet when viewing the mirror images in the survey (no behavioral information available), cats received higher adoptability ratings when presented as owner-surrendered compared with the flipped image of that cat presented as a stray.

Taken together, these studies suggest that adopters’ perception of stray cats, as well as cats’ interactions with humans, influence the amount of time a cat remains in the shelter prior to adoption.(MK) Full text available for download

See also:
Uetake K, Goto A, et al. Effects of single caging and cage size on behavior and stress level of domestic neutered cats housed in an animal shelter. Animal Science Journal. 2013 Mar; 84(3):272-274.