Our research project working with the University of Exeter started in March 2017, funding a PhD student and a postdoctoral researcher for three years. The project focused on understanding more about cat behaviour and cat owner attitudes to hunting; so that we could move beyond the social conflict that has plagued the issue of cat predation on wildlife.
SongBird Survival partnered with a citizen scientist and an ecologist to identify potential mitigation measures to hunting behavior, without impeding on cat welfare.
This highly collaborative project looked specifically at:
We understand cat owners are likely to want to help their local wildlife including how to protect birds from cats, but they just don’t know where to start!
iCatCare’s Head of Cat Advocacy, Dr Sarah Ellis, said:
“The finding that many UK cat owners actually care a great deal about wildlife conservation and their cats’ impact on it, suggests that some owners are receptive to employing cat friendly ways of reducing hunting. The right interventions could improve wildlife conservation efforts, maintain good cat mental-wellbeing, and, at the same time improve the cat-human relationship."
Remember that the best way to protect our precious ecosystem if you have a cat at home, is to PECK:
These tiny acts can help to save our feathered friends and don’t impact the welfare of your cats. If we can all do our bit and work together to tackle the range of issues facing our songbirds today, we can reverse the decline.
For more tips and advice on how best to encourage birds to your garden, click here.
Sarah gained her PhD from the University of Exeter in 2017, and is now working as a Postdoctoral researcher within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.
Martina Cecchetti has put in so much work on our study into Cats and Their Owners, alongside Dr Sarah Crowley and Prof. Robbie Mcdonald on the University of Exeter team.
Professor McDonald is Chair in Natural Environment at the University of Exeter. He leads the University's partnership with the National Wildlife Management Centre as part of a Wildlife Research Co-Operative.
Ceccheti, M., Crowley, S.L., McDonald, J., McDonald, R.A. (2022) Owner-ascribed personality profiles distinguish domestic cats that capture and bring home wild animal prey. Applied Animal Behavious Science. 105774. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2022.105774
Ceccheti, M., Crowley, S.L.,Goodwin, C.E.D., McDonald, R.A. (2021) Provision of High Meat Content Food and Object Play Reduce Predation of Wild Animals by Domestic Cats Felis catus. Current Biology. 31:1-5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.12.044
Ceccheti, M., Crowley, S.L., Wilson-Aggarwal, J., Nelli, L., McDonald, R.A. (2021) Spatial behavior of domestic cats and the effects of outdoor access restrictions and interventions to reduce predation of wildlife. Conservation Science and Practice. 4(2): https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.597
Ceccheti, M., Crowley, S.L., Goodwin, C.E.D., Cole, H., McDonald, J., Bearhop, S., McDonald, R.A. (2021) Contributions of wild and provisioned foods to the diets of domestic cats that depredate wild animals. Ecosphere. 12(9): https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3737
Ceccheti, M., Crowley, S.L., McDonald, R.A. (2020) Drivers and facilitators of hunting behaviour in domestic cats and options for management. Mammal Review. 51(3): 307-322.
Crowley, S.L., Cecchetti, M., McDonald, R.A. (2020) Diverse perspectives of cat owners indicate barriers to and opportunities for managing cat predation of wildlife. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment. 18(10): 544-549. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.2254
Crowley, S.L., Cecchetti, M., McDonald, R.A. (2020) Our Wild Companions: Domestic cats in the Anthropocene. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 35(6): 477-483. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2020.01.008
Crowley, S.L., Cecchetti, M., McDonald, R.A. (2019) Hunting behaviour in domestic cats: An exploratory study of risk and responsibility among cat owners. People and Nature. 1(1):18-30. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.6
Beckerman, A.P., Boots, M. and Gaston, K.J., 2007. Urban bird declines and the fear of cats. Animal Conservation, 10(3), pp.320-325.
Geiger, M., Kistler, C., Mattmann,P., Jenni, L., Hegglin, D., Bontadina, F. (2022) Colorful Collar-Covers andBells Reduce Wildlife Predation by Domestic Cats in a Continental European Setting. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 10: https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2022.850442
McDonald, J.L., Maclean, M., Evans, M.R. and Hodgson, D.J., 2015. Reconciling actual and perceived rates of predation by domestic cats. Ecology and evolution, 5(14), pp.2745-2753.
PFMA (2022, March 18). Pet population 2021. Pet Food Manufacturers Association. https://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-population-2021
Santosde Assis, L., Mills, D.S. (2021) Introducing a Controlled Outdoor Environment Impacts Positively in Cat Welfare and Owner Concerns: The Use of a New Feline Welfare Assessment Tool. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 7: https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.599284
Thomas, R.L., Fellowes, M.D. and Baker, P.J., 2012. Spatio-temporal variation in predation by urban domestic cats (Felis catus) and the acceptability of possible management actions in the UK. PLoS One, 7(11),p.e49369.
Woods, M., McDonald, R.A., Harris,S. (2003) Predation of wildlife by domestic cats Felis catus in Great Britain. Mammal Review. 33: 174– 188.
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