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Risk behaviours exhibited by free-roaming cats in a suburban US town
  1. K. A. T. Loyd, PhD1,
  2. S. M. Hernandez, DVM, PhD, DACZM2,
  3. K. J. Abernathy4,
  4. B. C. Shock, M.S.3 and
  5. G. J. Marshall4
  1. 1Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Department of Population Health, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  3. 3Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, Department of Population Health, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  4. 4National Geographic Remote Imaging, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, USA
  1. E-mail for correspondence: k.loyd{at}asu.edu

Abstract

Free-roaming cats may experience numerous hazardous encounters in the outdoor environment, including: vehicular accidents, aggression from other animals and exposure to infectious disease. This research quantitatively examined the outdoor activities of 55 owned cats by monitoring pets outfitted with ‘KittyCam’ video cameras. KittyCams are a type of Crittercam, designed by National Geographic to allow recording of a cat-eye view without disrupting behaviour. We investigated the activities of free-roaming cats in suburban Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, during all four seasons. Research objectives included documenting the type and regularity of risk behaviours exhibited by free-roaming cats and identifying characteristics of pet cats (eg, age, sex, roaming habitat) which predict risky behaviour in the outdoors. The most common risk behaviours exhibited by suburban free-roaming cats included crossing roads (45 per cent of our sample), encountering strange cats (25 per cent), eating and drinking substances away from home (25 per cent), exploring storm drain systems (20 per cent), and entering crawlspaces of houses (20 per cent). Male cats were more likely to engage in risk behaviours than female cats, and older cats engaged in fewer risk behaviours than younger individuals. We hope this information can be used to encourage the public to keep cats indoors more often (with consideration for their indoor quality of life) or supervise them while outdoors.

  • Behaviour
  • Cats
  • Pets

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