The secretive nature of cats makes it nearly impossible to observe their natural behavior when outdoors. Likewise, few cat owners know where their cats travel or what they do when allowed outside. A new study conducted in Britain used GPS loggers to map the travel of outdoor-access house cats. What makes this study more innovative than most is that they also used a small video camera attached to the cat’s collar (i.e. a cat-cam) to see exactly where the cat was traveling and what they were doing. The project was led by world renowned cat behavior expert Roger Tabor. Here’s a preview of the documentary and a link to the report summary: The Secret Lives of Cats.
I haven’t yet been able to find a copy of the full documentary so I don’t know if it’s even available yet. If you want to look for it, it’s produced by BBC and not to be confused with the “Secret Life of Cats” by National Geographic. The report summary is interesting, but I’m really hoping that they actually publish some of their results in a scientific journal.
Another exciting aspect of this study is that it could easily be replicated by anyone who wants to learn more about outdoor-access cat behavior. They used the Pat4Cats GPS logger from PawTrax, and this is nearly identical to the i-gotU GT-120 GPS logger.
Both GPS loggers use the @trip PC software. Here’s an example track from my dog Dante with me on a mountain bike ride. Please be aware that a GPS logger is not the same as a GPS tracker. The logger will record and save locations that can later be downloaded to your computer, but it will not send a live location to your cell phone or internet should your cat go missing. The cat-cam that they used is the Eyenimal Cat Video Camera. However, after doing a little research, I found that the Mr Petcam may be a better design and at half the price. I am planning on purchasing a cat-cam myself to learn more about the habitat use and movement patterns of outdoor-access and stray cats in New England. Understanding normal outdoor cat behavior is an important step toward understanding lost cat behavior.
Here’s a fun example of another cat-cam video. This one was done using Mr. Lee’s CatCam.