Bulwell Cat Watch was a citizen science programme designed and run by TCC and initiated by Cats Protection in 2016. The aim was to understand and change human behaviour, in order to encourage local people to help estimate community cat (or ‘stray’ cat) numbers in the area. Not only would this potential behaviour change lead to more cats being looked after and neutered, but is was also hoped it would strengthen social bonds and increase civic participation.
How we approached it
Primary research was conducted to find out more about the numbers of stray and community cats. This included stakeholder interviews and meetings, a face-to-face survey of 776 residents in an estate in Bulwell, Nottingham, and follow-up focus groups with local people.
As part of the research, we used Values Modes to understand the deeper motivational drivers of the community in Bulwell. This revealed an area which was upwardly mobile, but often socially conservative. Many were what is known as ‘Prospectors’ within Values Modes terminology, and saw strays as bringing down the area. So, our citizen science campaign focused on a common-sense campaign with local pride at its core. It was geared around simple, low commitment actions. Meanwhile, there was a significant minority of ‘Pioneers’ – driven by altruism – who were encouraged to take on more proactive roles. All this supported the development of an App, the creation of a neighbourhood hub, and a socially networks based approach.
There were several key findings, in terms of project outcome:
- Reach of 23,000 residents
- Approximately 500 cats reported by residents via 150 data sets
- 40% of residents aware of Bulwell Cat Watch
- 170 active members of the Facebook group
The pilot intervention provides an innovative example of citizen science and behaviour change theory, and is now being rolled out in four locations across the UK.