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Cats on farms in the United Kingdom: numbers and preventive care
  1. Claire Roberts1,
  2. Timothy J Gruffydd-Jones1,
  3. Jane Clements2,
  4. Trevor W Jones2,
  5. Mark James Farnworth3,4 and
  6. Jane K Murray1,5
  1. 1 Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 Cats Protection, National Cat Centre, Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath, Sussex, UK
  3. 3 School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
  4. 4 School of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
  5. 5 Dogs Trust, London, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; claire.e.roberts{at}

Statistics from

Studies concerning domestic cats on farms have historically explored social interactions and roaming patterns. Limited information exists on the numbers of farm cats, and care provided for them. Questionnaire-based exploration of the farm cat population has been conducted in the USA1 and the UK.2 However, neither study distinguished between types of farm cat, nor extended beyond basic provisioning and reasons for keeping cats.

The aim of this study was, within a UK sample, to estimate the number of ‘pet’, ‘farm’ and ‘feral’ cats living on farms, describe the characteristics of farms with any type of cats and describe the resources and preventive care provided to ‘pet’ and ‘farm’ cats.

An anonymous 23-question survey was constructed (online supplementary material). Questions included farm details (type of farm, size, location), the numbers of ‘pet’, ‘farm’ and ‘feral’ cats and the neutered status of and provisions made for ‘pet’ and ‘farm’ cats.

Supplemental material


The questionnaire ran online between October 2016 and January 2017 and was shared via social media, Young Farmers Clubs and veterinary practices. Paper copies of the questionnaire were available at two Somerset farmers’ auctions and sent to a small convenience sample of veterinary practices in Cornwall, Somerset and Hereford for distribution to farmers.

Respondents were self-selected; eligibility was restricted to farmers, farm workers and farm residents at least 16 years old. Only one questionnaire was instructed to be completed per farm, although verification of compliance was not possible. A prize draw incentive was used.

The definitions given for types of cat were: Pet cats ‘live mainly indoors and where you or a …

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  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests CR’s position was funded by Zoetis. JKM’s position was funded by Cats Protection.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by the University of Bristol Ethical Committee (reference 30541).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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