Unowned Free-Roaming Domestic Cats: Reflection of Animal Welfare and Ethical Aspects in Animal Laws in Six European Countries

in Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research
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Abstract

Besides the population of pet cats, another feline population that has regular and frequent relationships with the human population, is represented by unowned, free-roaming domestic cats. It is incontestable that part of human beings is responsible for the growing number of unwanted cats. The problems raised by the existence of free-roaming cat population range from acoustic and hygienic nuisance (because of loud vocalizations during the breeding season and bad smell due to sprayed urine from tomcats) to public health threat (because of the potential spread of zoonotic diseases and of diseases to pet cats and other species), to predation of wildlife (it can cause disruption of ecosystems). Undoubtedly, unowned free-roaming cat population has to be managed but, in the third millennium, human control strategies have to have an ethical dimension. In this paper, we propose an analysis of the National Laws in France, Spain, UK, Austria, Portugal and Italy. Based on the knowledge of domestic cat behavior, we suggest that when the TNR strategy for controlling domestic cat populations is applied by law in the mentioned countries, the basic needs and welfare of the species are respected.

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    Summary table of approaches for the management of unowned free-roaming cats in the countries examined, based on the respective national laws
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