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Cats and their environment

December 1, 2021

A new paper from "Cats and Their Owners" project, published December 2021

Spatial behavior of domestic cats and the effects of outdoor access restrictions and interventions to reduce predation of wildlife.

The effects of restricting outdoor access of domestic cats and other interventions to reduce predation of wildlife were the focus of the research in this new publication. It is part of a long term SBS funded study at Exeter University looking at cats and their owners.

Pet cat roaming behaviour is important to both cat safety and predation of birds and wildlife.  The study tested whether management strategies aimed at reducing cat predation could also reduce their roaming behaviours. The cats were found to have incredibly small home ranges (1.5h.a.) but unfortunately none of the strategies were effective in reducing the roaming.

​​However, cats that had their outdoor access partially restricted (at least at night) had 75% smaller home ranges, reached 46% shorter distances from home and 31% shorter daily total distance travelled. Other parts of the study have previously shown that there are interventions such as play and a premium meat rich diet which owners can use to effectively reduce direct predation. However, the only effective means of reducing roaming is restriction of access to outdoors.

We encourage all cat owners to keep their cats indoors at night, especially during breeding season to help minimise the impact on songbirds and local wildlife and to take our 3 simple steps to reduce feline hunting:

  • Fit a ‘BirdsBeSafe’ collar cover to deter birds
  • Play with cats for 5-10mins a day to‘scratch that itch’
  • Feed cats premium meaty food

The full paper can be accessed here

The publication follows on from our previous papers from this project - find out more about this project here:

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