Cat tracker project underway in suburban SA

To: John Harris <>, "<>" <>
Subject: Cat tracker project underway in suburban SA
From: David Rees <>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:36:55 +1000

Can only agree.  Probably the main rate limiting step for many of the birds we enjoy is nesting holes, think parrots.  Trees get old, fall over, not replaced.  There there is competition for holes etc.etc. as you say.


On Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 11:59 AM, John Harris <> wrote:

Thanks David,
I too take your point. Gungahlin suburbs north of me have rules about containment of cats.  Birdlovers like me instinctively approve. But you are right, particularly if there are no rigorous studies which actually prove the effect of these measures. Bird populations may be declining for far more drastic reasons than domestic cats and there is little point in feeling good about cat containment if other things like reduction of nesting sites or competition with Mynas or Starlings are the major factors and are not being addressed.

From: David Rees <>
Date: Friday, 17 April 2015 11:40 am
To: John Harris <>, chatline <m("","canberrabirds");" target="_blank">>

Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Cat tracker project underway in suburban SA


I do not dispute what you say, in a way it supports it what I have been saying. Domestic cats are individuals, some will hunt, some will not, others will go 'through the motions'. They are, as you say, instinctive predators.  A bird table close to cover means that the 'hunter' does not have to go far - hence my comment on travel distance and hunting.  

Predation you describe happens. What impact it is having on the populations of native animals in highly modified  environments is a matter for debate and study.  However, it is reasonable to expect that many people do not like wildlife being eaten and 'played with' before their eyes.  While these two issues are related,  they are not the same.     

I support containing cats to keep them safe.  I do not want mine eating wildlife and they do not.   In this town we have a golden opportunity to do some good science to see if the containment measures that have already been put in place are actually having a beneficial effect on populations of native animals.  One would think the ACT Government, The ANU, COG etc.etc would be all over this opportunity.  It seems to me, and I stand to be corrected, that little if anything is happening to undertake this assessment.  If that is the case, I would like to know why, and I expect many others in Canberra would also.  

If a clear impact can be shown from such studies here in Canberra then that data needs to be 'put on the table' and the community has a discussion about it. The community with its elected representatives then makes a political decision about it.  In other words the simple process of 'evidence-based democracy'.  A recent editorial in the Canberra Times outlined this rather nicely. 



On Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 5:08 PM, John Harris <> wrote:
I am no expert on cats, domestic or feral, but I wouldn’t be too complacent about well-fed pet cats. There are several very well fed ones in my immediate neighbourhood and it is obvious the instinct is still there in the genes. They may not be hungry but they are still hunters. Only last week I tried to rescue a Doble-barred Finch. The cat dropped it but it died in my hands. This cat was from a few doors down. The one next door is always hunting. I have had to net my fishpond and move my bird feeder to a position more difficult for the cat. It catches mice as well as birds and lizards. It never eats them but it kills them and, in the case of mice, teases them until they are dead.  

From: David Rees <>
Date: Thursday, 16 April 2015 2:46 pm
To: Ian Baird <>, Kathryn Eyles <m("","kathymatty");" target="_blank">>, chatline <m("","canberrabirds");" target="_blank">>
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Cat tracker project underway in suburban SA


Please define a 'small animal" - have no problem if what you are talking about is a mouse!

The scenario you paint may be true of a hungry feral cat, in a 'natural' environment where the only food available is what it catches.

To equate this with the activities of a domestic animal,  with its own 'home' with a food bowl and  somewhere safe to sleep for its exclusive use is, at best, highly questionable. It is one possible scenario of many.

Furthermore how far a cat (or any predator)  travels and how much it hunts are likely to have little relationship with each other. 

I might help if you spend some more time watching domestic animals.


On Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 7:36 AM, Ian Baird <> wrote:


Thanks for posting this. New technology is opening up interesting research opportunities.


Whenever we see small animals present in habitat, we naturally assume they are there to feed and gain sustenance there. That is a reasonable assumption often borne out by complementary observations which support the presumption.


I see no reason why it is not logical to assume the same about cats –until we have good evidence to the contrary.


Ian Baird


From: Kathryn Eyles [
Sent: Wednesday, 15 April 2015 5:09 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Cat tracker project underway in suburban SA


Dear birdlsters 


For those interested in the cat containment debate - this fascinating project in SA is tracking the roaming patterns of a group of domestic cats in the suburbs.  


You can also view the individual cat tracks - click on view track under each cat   


Some moggies roam in their immediate neighbourhood but others like MonMon, Frizzle and BruceWillis had some long forays to suburb edge and beyond.



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