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The environmental impact of overfed cats in the Netherlands

Woning, Romee (2021) The environmental impact of overfed cats in the Netherlands. Bachelor thesis.

Bachelors thesis Romée Woning S3646416 June 2021.pdf

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This research examines the connection between the environmental impact and overweight of cats in the Netherlands. The environmental impact of people is something that has been discussed extensively for a long time. Nevertheless, the impact of pets such as cats remains hardly discussed. Food is the most critical contributor to a cat’s environmental impact. It is estimated that 25 to 50% of cats in the Netherlands are already overweight, which has an even more significant impact on the environment. Therefore this study aims to assess if cat owners are willing to manage their cats’ food intake and thereby limit its damage to the environment. The main question addressed in this study is: What factors influence a cat owner’s willingness to prevent overfeeding to effectively reduce the environmental paw print? An answer to this question is provided by a literature study and primary collected data, obtained by a distributed questionnaire that recruited sixty-three cat owners. The data were then analysed, and a multiple linear regression was performed. The study found that the ecological paw print (EPP) of a cat’s diet is between 4.46 and 7.80 ha for the entire lifetime, which results in 1690 to 2960 kg of carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, a cat’s water paw print (WPP) is 85 mᶾ per year. Emerging from the questionnaire, the main reason given for feeding cats extra food or snacks, is that owners want to make the cat happy. Another reason outside the answers was that training cats could also be a reason to feed it a snack. A surprising result from this study is that most of the partaking respondents were unwilling to monitor the cat’s food intake if this had to be done to lessen their cat’s environmental impact, however most respondents were willing to do so out of health considerations. Contrary to previous studies, this research cannot conclude a linear relationship between the various factors discussed in this study and the willingness to manage cat food intake. A possible explanation for this difference is that previous studies mainly focus on preventing overweight in relation to the cat’s health, while this study mainly focuses on preventing overweight to save the environment. However, this research has shown that cat owners may be more willing to manage food intake to the benefit of their pet’s health rather than environmental considerations.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor)
Degree programme: Human Geography and Planning
Supervisor: Mallon, G.
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 06:47
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 06:47

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