How to know how far your cat wanders outside

Hiding cat

Some days, cats disappear for hours on end and you can’t help wondering where they are. Have they gone on an adventure, following interesting smells and sounds, or are they snoozing under a nearby bush?

New research sheds some light on this mystery, revealing that your cat is probably much closer to home than you think.

Researchers and master’s students at NMBU, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, GPS-tagged 92 pet cats in a small town in eastern Norway and tracked the cats when they were outside.

Black hat

“The goal was to map the movements of an entire population of pet cats within the same area,” explained Richard Bischof, a professor at NMBU.

Results showed that although there was great variation between the individual cats in how they used the landscape, the cats in the study spent an average of 79% of their time outdoors within 50 metres of their home. The average maximum distance for all cats was 352 metres.

“Some individuals travelled relatively far, sometimes several kilometres, but those were the exceptions,” Bischof said.

Using the GPS data, the researchers created a map of the local “catscape” — the combined intensity with which the area is used by all cats living there.

After the data collection and data analysis for the study was complete, the cat owners were given access to digital maps allowing them to see where their pet had been.

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