Inspired living

How your outdoor cat can damage your eco-friendly reputation

little kitten playing in grass


So, you have a cat and it mainly lives outdoor? What does that say about your thoughts on conservation and sustainability?

A new study shows that even if you are concerned about the environment and employ sustainable practices in and around your Home like installing solar panels and not using chemicals in your lawn, if you allow your cats outdoors you will be judged adversely.

Many nature lovers have issues with outdoor cats as they pose a threat to wildlife especially birds.

Social norms have been a powerful influence in pro-environmental behaviour and conservation-related attitude in offline social settings.

But with the emergence of social media and citizen science platforms which enable people to coordinate conservation efforts on a larger scale, there comes a need to understand how online social norms can affect how members within the community are judged and what impressions are formed.

Researchers used a socially networked mapping application called Habitat Network (originally named yardmap.org) which allows its member to create and share virtual maps of their properties and share their sustainability efforts.

The researchers created two profiles for a pro-environmental property with a small lawn, solar panels and low chemical usage.

One version of the profile had an icon and an image indicating and indoor cat while the other profile showed an outdoor cat.

Many nature lovers have issues with outdoor cats as they pose a threat to wildlife especially birds.

The members of Habitat Network were asked to rate each property owner’s level of sustainability.

The researchers found that members who did not own cats judged those with outdoor cats negatively and even considered them less likely to engage in a variety of conservation and environmental behaviours even though the maps showed that these property owners engaged in environmentally friendly behaviours such as having solar panels and using low chemicals.

Online citizen science projects have the potential to unite the conservation community and can foster pro-environmental behaviour if people didn’t randomly make assumptions about other members biased by social norms and misconceptions.

The findings portray how we assume and judge other people based on so-called social norms which can sometimes be quite narrow-minded. It reminds us that’s is easy to jump to conclusions when we have little information about other people’s behaviours.

Whether we own a cat or not – perhaps, we need to take a step back and really understand others before we draw conclusions.

Source: Group Processes & Intergroup Relations


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!