A research project undertaken by the University of Georgia has given cat owners an new insight into what their precious kittehs get up to in the dead of night.
Researchers from the University worked with the National Geographic CritterCam team, which creates small mobile data gathering systems to give them an insight into the behavior of wild animals. The ones that they built for the University of Georgia’s cat project are the smallest ones they have made so far.
They are attached to the cat via the means of a collar, from which the camera dangles and it captures what these beloved housepets get up to when their human owners aren’t looking!
The researchers worked with 60 cat owners in Athens, Georgia. Each owner would put a camera on their cat before allowing the cat out to roam, upon their return the owner then removed the camera and downloaded the evening’s footage. The cats used in the study spent between 4 and 6 hours outside each day.
The study found that whilst only 30% of roaming house cats hunt living prey, they are still killing more creatures than was previously assumed (an average of two animals each week). The other 70% of the house cat population must prefer KittyKat are too plain lazy to go chasing around after living creatures!
These killing kitteh’s are causing a bit of a problem too, George Fenwich, president of the American Bird Conservancy said: “cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American birds species are in decline.”
If you think that the only creatures that your moggy kills are the ones they plop on your doormat as a gift for you, then you would be wrong. According to the research, cats brought home just under a quarter of what they killed, ate 30% and left 49% to rot at the place of death.
Of the favored prey, lizards, snakes and frogs came up tops with 41% of the animals killed. Next were small mammals like chipmunks and voles with 25%, insects and worms made up 20% and birds were relatively low with 12%.
The researchers will present the findings of the study at Ecological Society of America conference in Portland, Oregon this week.
As well as figures on these lean-mean killing machines, the study also found that while you think your precious pet might like nothing more than curling up in a ball and snoozing in front of the fireplace, when your attention is diverted, cats like nothing more than a bit of dare-devil behavior!
The study found that lots of the cats partook in some seriously risky behavior; 45% crossing roadways, 25% eating and drinking things they found, 20% exploring storm drains and 20% liked creeping into crawl-space where they could easily become trapped.
A few of the owners who were involved in the study, also found out some alarming things about their beloved pets, one woman who discovered that her cat had a whole other family, said she felt like the naïve woman who had discovered that her husband had another wife and family. Ahh, should’ve kept a closer eye on your wily little feline love!
House Cats Kill More Critters than Thought (Via USA Today)