Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Study reveals hidden lives of cats

Posted: August 17, 2012
The hidden lives of cats – where they go, what they do and who they meet day to day – are revealed in a new study that used tiny cameras to record their every move.
Photo by: Courtesy of Kerrie Anne Loyd
Arizona State University wildlife ecologist Kerrie Anne Loyd reveals the hidden lives of cats through a study – of which she was lead author – that placed tiny cameras developed by National Geographic on the collars of 55 cats in Athens, Ga., to see what they would do and where they would go.

"They gathered thousands of hours of tape as the cats roamed their suburban neighborhoods," said Melissa Block, host of NPR's "All Things Considered," who talked with Loyd about the research.

Loyd, who teaches biology and ecology at ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu, said she and her team of researchers were surprised by the findings.

Her team – and the owners of the cats  – were shocked to see that quite a few of the cats visited other homes and were "being pet by another family, eating there, basically cheating on their original owners," Loyd said.

Another surprising finding for the team was that 44 percent of the cats exhibited hunting behavior, and even fewer, 30 percent, successfully captured animals. Some of the cats, Loyd said, "regularly sat under bird feeders stalking birds, but they didn't capture any. … Many of them did a lot of lounging, just sitting on the porch, waiting for their owners to come home.

"There were quite a few that did a lot of exploring of the neighborhoods."

Seeing cats crossing roads and going down into storm drains was not uncommon, Loyd said.

She added: "Cats are fascinating animals."
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