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Book Chapter

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Humans and cats have a long and complex history together. Since the nineteenth century, contradictory ideas about the need to protect and care for cats have moved us toward a shift in ideas, values, and behaviors to a more benign perception of cats than was generally the case in previous centuries. In some quarters, but not all, even feral cats have begun to be seen as worthy of our study and humane treatment. In many countries, the welfare of all cats has become a focus of public concern, but nowhere is the shift in values reflected more than in the focus on feral cats—defined as unowned and unsocialized cats. Feral cats likely exist everywhere humans have traveled, whether deliberately introduced to control rodents and other pests, when they accidentally escape the home, or when they have been deliberately abandoned.