Study reveals where pet cats roam outdoors
17th March, 2020
Have you ever wondered where your cat wanders? It may not be as far as you think…
In a new study published in the journal Animal Conservation, researchers put GPS trackers on 925 pet cats from six countries and tracked their movements for six days.
Most of the cats were content to be homebodies, zoologist Roland Kays told National Geographic.
“I was surprised at how little these cats moved. Most of them spent all their time within 100 metres [330 feet] of their yard.”
There were notable exceptions, however: Max, a neutered tomcat from southwest England, walked the road from the village of St. Newlyn East to Trevilson, a distance of more than a mile, and then turned around and walked back.
He made this round-trip twice during the six days he was tracked, but the researchers don’t know why.
GPS maps show that more than half the cats stayed within about 2.5 acres of home, but an adventurous 7% covered more than 25 acres and Penny, a young female from the suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand, travelled more than three square miles in six days.
In their analysis of the data, the researchers compared the journeys of the cats by age, sex, whether or not they were spayed or neutered, and their home environment.
Young, male, unaltered, rural cats tended to travel furthest.
Another striking finding was that domestic cats have a two- to 10-times larger impact on wildlife than wild predators.
“Since they are fed cat food, pets kill fewer prey per day than wild predators, but their home ranges were so small that this effect on local prey ends up getting really concentrated,” explained Roland Kays, lead author of the study paper.
“Add to this the unnaturally high density of pet cats in some areas, and the risk to bird and small mammal populations gets even worse.”
The research also highlighted the danger of traffic for pet cats, with the average cat in the study crossing roads four-and-a-half times during the six days of tracking.
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