A comparison of cat-related risk perceptions and tolerance for outdoor cats in Florida and Hawaii.
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Risk perceptions and attitudes toward animals often explain tolerance for wildlife and management preferences. However, little is understood about how these relationships vary across different geographic regions and stakeholder groups. To address this gap in knowledge, we compared differences in acceptance capacity, risk perceptions, perceived enjoyment from outdoor cats, and experiences with outdoor cats among 3 groups (general public, conservation community, and animal-welfare community) in Hawaii and Florida, two states with large conservation challenges. We combined independently collected data from Florida and Hawaii, to determine how perception of the risks presented by outdoor cats, group membership, and state of residence influenced people's tolerance for outdoor cats. Florida respondents were significantly more tolerant of outdoor cats and less concerned about cat-related risks than Hawaii respondents (p < 0.05). In both states, animal-welfare group members reported greater enjoyment seeing cats and perceived a smaller increase in the cat population and lower levels of risk than other groups (p < 0.05). All groups exhibited similar relationships between acceptance capacity and enjoyment and the perceived increase in the cat population. Our results suggest public tolerance for cats varied due to the influence of local or geographical concerns, but that strongly held beliefs, risk perceptions, and feelings about cats explained more of the variance in stakeholder tolerance.
author list (cited authors)
Wald, D. M., Lohr, C. A., Lepczyk, C. A., Jacobson, S. K., & Cox, L. J.
complete list of authors
Wald, Dara M||Lohr, Cheryl A||Lepczyk, Christopher A||Jacobson, Susan K||Cox, Linda J