Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

James Cavendish, Ph.D.

Keywords

Animal rights, Animal welfare, Caretakers, Personal efficacy, Social movements

Abstract

Sociologists have described the characteristics of individuals who become involved in social movements, their motivations for becoming involved, and the methods used to recruit participants. One group that has been underrepresented in the existing literature is feral cat caretakers. The purpose of this study is to examine the traits of this group, information which would be valuable to groups dedicated to educating the public about the plight of feral cats, groups which offer information and resources to caretakers, individuals wishing to network with other feral cat caretakers, and policy makers in need of knowing what options exist to deal with feral cats. A small sample of fifteen participants was interviewed either face-to-face or by email. Questions were open-ended to facilitate individual discussion and expression. The sample was drawn from personal acquaintances, recruitment letters posted in spay/neuter clinics, email blasts to members of feral cat networks, and referrals from participants. Results demonstrated that while the demographics of the participants were similar to others involved in social movements, there were some differences in their recruitment methods and involvement in organized groups. Feral cat caretakers demonstrated a very strong sense of personal efficacy and self motivation.

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