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The Secret Life of a Domestic Feline.  [Click images to enlarge.]

Ever wonder what your kitty is up to when roaming the neighbourhood outside? Now you can get a good idea thanks to a team from BBC Two’s Horizon program that collaborated with the Royal Veterinary College and armed dozens of feline-friends with GPS tracking devices and micro-cameras to dually record their daily activities. 

Meet Ginger, Chip, Sooty, Orlando, Hermie, Phoebe, Deebee, Kato, Coco and Rosie. They are 10 of the 50 cats studied in the village of Shamley Green, Surrey, for Horizon’s programme The Secret Life of the Cat.

As part of one of the largest ever research projects into domestic cat behaviour, the Horizon team - aided by the Royal Veterinary College and Lincoln and Bristol Universities - tracked dozens of cats over several 24-hour periods using specially-designed collar GPS devices and tiny “cat cams”.

The result? Scientists discovered the cats appeared to timeshare territory to avoid confrontation with neighbouring felines and visit each others houses. However, the cat cam footage also revealed squabbles over territory remained. There was also an incident with a fox and with a nest of fledglings.” [x]

1. Ginger

Name: Ginger
Age: Five to 10 years     Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Ginger tomcat
Character: Intolerant and aloof, but also active and trainable. A good hunter. Known to fight with the neighbour’s cat and visits the neighbouring property
Roaming: Roams almost 200m (more than 600ft) from home and covers an area of about 0.3 hectares (0.7 acres)
Prey: Brings frogs, toads, birds or small mammals home most days

Expert view: “Ginger’s roaming is pretty average in terms of range or distance from home. However, on one of the days he was tracked he was more active than any of the other cats,” say researchers.

2. Chip

Name: Chip
Age: One to four years      Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Short-haired black and white moggie
Character: Active and stubborn, but also friendly, tolerant and trainable
Roaming: Visits other houses. Roams about 160m (530ft) from home, but covers 1.2 hectares (three acres)
Prey: Brings birds or small mammals home once or twice a week

Expert view: “Chip lives on the edge of the village and has the third largest roaming range of our 10 cats. He stuck to travelling through back gardens and by the side of a row of houses,” say researchers.

3. Sooty

Name: Sooty
Age: Five to 10 years      Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Short-haired black moggie/farm cat
Character: Friendly, tolerant and active, but somewhat aloof and calm. Doesn’t fight. Lives with sibling Socks
Roaming: Roams 186m (600ft) from home and covers nearly three hectares (seven acres)
Prey: Brings home small mammals a couple of times a week

Expert view: “Sooty has the largest roaming range of our 10 cats and liked to visit some trees on farmland next to some water. His house is on the edge of the village and so he has easy access to the countryside,” say researchers.

4. Orlando

Name: Orlando
Age: More than 10 years      Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Ginger moggie
Character: Used to be feral in Hong Kong. In good weather he refuses cat food and survives by hunting wildlife. He hates the cold and sleeps on the family’s range. Fights with Clawdius, another of the household’s cats.
Roaming: Roams 150m (500ft) from home but covers an area of more than two hectares (5.5 acres)
Prey: Brings home small mammals once or twice a week

Expert view: “Orlando appears to be a ‘regular’ hunter and travels into an area of open grassland and woods behind his house. He lives outside the village giving him easy access to the countryside,” say researchers.

5. Hermie

Name: Hermie
Age: One to four years      Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Black domestic shorthair
Character: Active and stubborn, but also friendly, tolerant and trainable. A hermaphrodite which is quite rare
Roaming: Roams about 170m (560ft) from home, but covers a larger area than any other cat - up to 3.3 hectares (eight acres)
Prey: Brings birds or small mammals home once or twice a week

Expert view: “Hermie is a hermaphrodite cat. He was regularly on the move within this area and was generally a very active cat when compared to others,” say researchers.

6. Kato

Name: Kato
Age: Five to 10 years      Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Long-haired, fluffy black and white moggie
Character: Tolerant, calm, friendly and trainable, but also bold and stubborn. Regularly fights with Phoebe, a tortoiseshell female
Roaming: Roams up to 93m from home and covers about a hectare (2.7 acres)
Prey: Brings birds or small mammals home a couple of times a week.

Expert view: “Kato appears to timeshare territory with Phoebe, a cat who lives on the opposite side of the road. They appear to avoid being out at the same time as one another,” say researchers.

7. Phoebe

Name: Phoebe
Age: Five to 10 years      Sex: Female
Breed/colour: Tortoiseshell moggie
Character: Active and friendly. A great hunter, especially in summer. Strays from home for days at a time. Regularly fights with neighbours’ cat, KatoRoaming: Roams about 140m from home and covers more than a hectare (more than three acres)
Prey: Brings birds or small mammals home a couple of times a week - more in summer

Expert view: “Phoebe appears to timeshare the road between her house with neighbouring cat Kato. The owners know the two sometimes fight. When one is active and outside, the other tends to be inside,” say researchers.

8. Deebee

Name: Deebee
Age: More than 10 years      Sex: Male
Breed/colour: Short-haired black tabby
Character: Sometimes friendly, but also aloof and intolerant. Hand-reared from three days old due to his mother’s death. Known to fight with other cats, including those he lives with
Roaming:Roams 150m (500ft) from home, but covers an area of more than two hectares (5.4 acres)
Prey: Never brings prey home

Expert view: “Deebee is a relatively new cat to the village and appears to be scoping out where to establish a territory. He lives in a house in the centre of the village surrounded by other pet cats,” say researchers.

9. Coco

Name: Coco
Age: One to four years      Sex: Female
Breed/colour: Black domestic shorthair
Character: Tolerant and calm as well as active and friendly. She loves cuddles and cosy spots. Hard to house train and fights with other cats
Roaming: Visits other houses. Roams up to 80m (260ft) from home and covers half a hectare (1.2 acres)
Prey: Brings birds or small mammals home a couple of times a week

Expert view: “Coco lives with another two cats - Bramble and Phoebus - but has a fairly average roaming range. However, she was one of the more active cats studied,” say researchers.

10. Rosie

Name: Rosie
Age: Five to 10 years     Sex: Female
Neutered: Yes
Breed/colour: British shorthair
Character: Friendly cat. Known to visit other houses and likes to hunt shrews. She fights with the cat next door
Roaming: Doesn’t roam far - just 40m (130ft) from home. She covers just 0.2 hectares (half an acre)
Prey: Although she likes to hunt shrews, she never brings prey home

Expert view: "Rosie spends a lot of time outside, but appears to have a quite a small territory. She spends nearly all of her time in her own garden, and does not venture much further," say researchers.

BBC Two is airing a documentary on June 13, 2013 about the project. The scientists involved plan to publish a formal paper about their work in the future, Wilson wrote.” [x] If you missed the air-date you can watch here on the BBC iPlayer. Be forewarned that those living outside of the UK aren’t able to view the videos as of yet.

Read more here, & hereRead more about the science and technology behind the study from Alan Wilson of the Royal Veterinary College.

 

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, #cat #domestic cats #feline #The Secret Life of the Cat #biology #science
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