There are five different types of cat owner when it comes to their pet's hunting habits, a study revealed, and they range from protector to laissez-faire landlord.
University of Exeter researchers surveyed UK cat owners to get a better idea of views surrounding the impact of their pet's hunting and roaming activities on local wildlife.
Conservation organisations have long been concerned about the numbers of animals caught by the UK's large population of domestic cats.
There were mixed views from those deeply concerned through to those who were unaware of any issues surrounding cats hunting.
Understanding how cat owners feel about hunting can help researchers develop techniques to reduce its impact on wildlife populations, the team explained.
University of Exeter researchers surveyed UK cat owners to get a better idea of views surrounding the impact of their pet's hunting and roaming activities on local wildlife
Suggested measures to reduce hunting success include fitting cats with brightly coloured 'BirdsBeSafe' collar covers. Many owners also fit their cats with bells.
Most pet cats kill very few wild animals, if any, but with a population of around 10 million cats, the numbers of birds, small mammals and reptiles can accumulate.
Apart from their role as 'mousers', most owners find the dead animals brought home an unpleasant reminder of their pet's wilder side.
Addressing this problem has been difficult because of disagreements between people prioritising cat welfare and those focusing on wildlife conservation.
The Exeter team's ongoing research project 'Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife' aims to find a conservation win-win for both sides in the argument.
They are trying to do this by identifying ways of owners managing their cats that benefit the animal as well as reducing wildlife killing.
This research is a step towards understanding how cat owners view their cats and how best to manage them, the authors of the study explained.
As part of this the Exeter team developed a quiz that pet owners can take to determine which of the five 'owner' categories they fit into.
The researchers say their findings demonstrate the need for diverse management strategies that reflect the differing perspectives of cat owners.
'Although we found a range of views, most UK cat owners valued outdoor access for their cats and opposed the idea of keeping them inside to prevent hunting,' said lead author, Dr Sarah Crowley, from the University of Exeter.
The researchers say their findings demonstrate the need for diverse management strategies that reflect the differing perspectives of cat owners. Stock image
Crowley, who works out of the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall, said: 'Cat confinement policies are unlikely to find support among owners in the UK.
'However, only one of the owner types viewed hunting as a positive, suggesting the rest might be interested in reducing it by some means.
Conscientious caretakers: These owners are concerned about cats' impact on wildlife and feel some responsibility
Freedom defenders: These cat parents are opposed restrictions on cat behaviour altogether
Concerned protectors: This type of owner is primarily focussed on cat safety
Tolerant guardians: These are owners that dislike their cats hunting but tended to accept it
Laissez-faire landlords: The most relaxed of cat owners, they were largely unaware of any issues around cats roaming and hunting
'To be most effective, efforts to reduce hunting must be