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Kitty Cams provide a creative solution to answer widespread and controversial questions about the interactions and behaviors of cats in the environment.

Through the use of Kitty Cams, our research team measured cat predation on wildlife and quantified common factors threatening the health of owned free-roaming cats (for example: vehicles and exposure to infectious disease).

Images are much more powerful than words and our photos and videos may become an instant educational tool to help inform the general public about the welfare of their cat.

Kitty Cams are lightweight, waterproof units with LED lights to record activity at night. They are mounted on a break-away collar and outfitted with a radio-tracking device so we can locate any lost cameras. High quality video is recorded on mini SD memory cards for easy download and viewing.

Sixty pet kitties in Athens-Clarke County wore cameras while roaming outdoors for 7-10 days. We have footage from a variety of different habitats and throughout all four seasons.

cat with camera

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Anthrozoös Journal Manuscript:

AZ VOL. 25(3).E-print Loyd.pdf

Citation:

Loyd, K. A. T., Hernandez, S. M., (2012), "Public perceptions of domestic cats and preferences for feral cat management in the southeastern United States", Anthrozoos, 25, 3. pg: 337-351 10.2752/175303712X13403555186299

Veterinary Record Manuscript:

Veterinary Record-2013-Loyd-vr.101222.pdf

Citation:

Loyd, K.T., Hernandez, S.M., Abernathy, K.J., Shock, B.C, Marshall, G.J., 2013. Risk behaviours exhibited by free-roaming cats in a suburban US town. Veterinary Record, 10.1136/vr.101222.

Biological Conservation Journal Manuscript:

Loyd et al 2013.pdf

Citation:

Loyd, K.T., Hernandez, S.M., Carroll, J.P., Abernathy, K.J., Marshall, G.J., 2013. Quantifying free-roaming domestic cat predation using animal-borne
video cameras. Biol. Conserv. 160, 183-189.

 

We had enough footage from 55 of our participating cats to analyze. Thanks to our diligent volunteers, we had an average of 37 hours of footage per roaming kitty. One of the most surprising things we witnessed was cats adopting a second set of owners. Four of our project kitties were recorded entering another household for food and/or affection!

Results indicate that a minority of roaming cats in Athens (44%) hunt wildlife and that reptiles, mammals and invertebrates constitute the majority of suburban prey. Hunting cats captured an average of 2 items during seven days of roaming. Carolina anoles (small lizards) were the most common prey species followed by Woodland Voles (small mammals). Only one of the vertebrates captured was a non-native species (a House Mouse). Eighty-five percent of wildlife captures were witnessed during the warm season (March-November in the southern US). Cats roaming during warmer seasons were more likely to exhibit hunting behavior and the number of captures per hunting cat is expected to decrease with increasing cat age. Cat age, sex, and time spent outside did not significantly influence hunting behavior.
               
The most common risk factors experienced by suburban free-roaming cats include: crossing roads (45% of our sample), encountering strange cats (25%), eating and drinking substances away from home (25%), exploring storm drain systems (20%) and entering crawlspaces where they could become trapped (20%). Eighty-five percent of project cats were witnessed exhibiting at least 1 risk behavior. Male cats were more likely to engage in risk behavior than female cats and fewer risk behaviors were witnessed by older individuals. Total time spent outside also influenced the number of risks experienced by free-roaming cats.

Wildlife student Caroline Ward (‘12) used focal sampling to examine activity budgets of our participating cats for her senior thesis research project. She found that KittyCam cats spend the majority of their outdoor time resting (rather than moving). Cat age and season had a significant effect on the amount of time cats spent in motion though. Our cats were more active in warmer seasons and younger cats were more active than older kitties.

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