Cat Research Study Overview

Before covering additional topics on cat behavior, I wanted to take a moment to review cat research in general.  Although the cat is the most popular pet in the US, there is surprisingly little research on its natural behavior.  So far I have only been able to find five research studies that focus on the home range, movements, and activity patterns of outdoor-access cats in suburban neighborhoods (Barratt 1997, Kay and DeWan 2004, Meek 2003, Morgan et al. 2009, and Schmidt et al. 2007).  Two of these studies were conducted in the US, two in Australia, and one in New Zealand.  There are significantly more research studies that have been conducted on free-ranging cats.  Free-ranging cats may be feral, semi-feral, stray, farm, or perhaps lost cats.  I have compiled a bibliography with abstracts (i.e. research summaries) when available for all the research studies that I have found so far.  I will continue to update this document as I conduct more literature research.

Research Studies on the Behavior of Outdoor-Access and Free-Ranging Domestic Cats:  Bibliography with Abstracts

If you are interested in learning more about cat behavior, I would also recommend the following books:

Turner, Dennis. C., and Patrick. Bateson, editors. 2000.  The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.  (This is the best compilation of cat research studies to date, but it is so dense that it can be difficult to read.)

Tabor, Roger.  2003.  Understanding Cat Behavior.  F&W Publications Inc.  (This book is an easy read, but still informative.)

Johnson-Bennett, Pam.  2004.  Cat Vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat. Penguin Books.  (While not research study based, this book offers useful insights into cat social behavior.  It also has very good information on how to reintroduce a cat back into a multi-cat household, which could be useful for people who find their lost cats.)

There are many other books available on cats, but most focus on how to take care of a cat or how to fix cat behavior problems.  Keep in mind that just because something about cat behavior is published in a book, it doesn’t necessarily make it true.  People can pretty much write anything that they want in books and even people that may be experts on cat behavior problems, don’t necessarily have a good understanding of cat biology.  In contrast, all scientific journal articles must be reviewed and edited by other scientists in the author’s field of research before they are published.

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