To: 'David Adams' <>, Birding-Aus <>
Subject: KittyCam
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2012 09:40:36 +1000
44% at least stalked, that sounds more believable, but it still seems too low. 
I wonder if this reflects prey availability. It might be difficult to tell if a 
cat is searching for prey but not finding any.

Australian figures might well be quite different, given that lack of equivalent 
native predators here, and the resulting lack of natural defences in native 

"hypnotized by cats" is a good description of some of the deniers I've come 

Peter Shute

>-----Original Message-----
>From:  [birding-aus-
> On Behalf Of David Adams
>Sent: Friday, 10 August 2012 9:19 AM
>To: Birding-Aus
>Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] KittyCam
>Whew, I'm glad someone else threw this rock in the pond...I wasn't
>sure that I wanted to start it. Here's a link to the study's public
>home page:
>This is a science project based on real field data - not just a set of
>guesses. Such studies are never the final word, but at least they're
>bringing some real data to some questions that are often addressed
>only with passion and opinion.
>The study looks to be a PhD project and then some that involved 60
>cats in one area of which 55 provided good enough data for analysis.
>They had an average of 37 hours of footage per cat spread over various
>seasons. So, a pretty decent slice of real-world behavior caught on
>film. It must have required an enormous amount of work to do all of
>this. Just imagine the hours spent teaching the cats to use the
>cameras alone ;-) The site includes a 200MB video of a presentation on
>the project given by Kerrie Anne T. Loyd, about her dissertation. (The
>project.) She comes across quite credibly and seems very comfortable
>talking about the quality of their numbers and what they mean.
>The project doesn't seem to be anti-cat per se. They look to be
>bringing some science to the controversy and they're reaching out to
>pet owners with research showing that letting cats roam about loose is
>*dangerous to cats*. So, wildlife-lovers want cats contained because
>they kill local wildlife and cat owners should want cats controlled to
>keep their pets safe. So, the implications are relevant both to
>wildlife welfare and cat welfare.
>It wouldn't make sense to make precise and absolute numeric
>predications about cat behavior from a data set of only 55 cats.
>Still, you can make some pretty reasonable assertions about cat
>behavior from that data. In fact, a lot of the study findings seem
>pretty common-sensical, at least to someone that hasn't been
>hypnotized by cats. (Full disclaimer: I'm a total dog person. Dogs are
>natural-born hunters and ours stays on a lead or in a controlled area
>all of the time.)
>A few of the findings:
>Cats Love to Hunt
>Love it. It's what they do. Millions of years of evolution have honed
>these pure carnivores into incredibly efficient hunters. A few
>thousand years of hanging around humans hasn't ended that. The project
>witnessed 44% of the cats stalking and 30% capturing prey. Given the
>number of free-roaming cats in the world, those are terrifying
>Cats Are Loyal
>Four of the cats had two families. Bet the cats never told...just have
>been a shock to family #2 when Mr. Winkles showed up with a camera
>around its neck...
>Cats Like Risk
>Cats are much bigger risk takers than their owners know, including
>cross roads (45%), eating and drinking mysterious things (25%),
>getting into tight and potentially dangerous spaces (20%), and so on.
>All-in-all, 85% of the cats were seen doing something on their list of
>risks. Not a shocker but younger and male correlates with higher risk.
>People Have no Idea What Their Cats Do
>People really haven't the faintest clue what their kitties are up to.
>At all. How could they?
>* See "Cats are Loyal" (cough-cough)
>* See "Cats Like Risk"
>* I can't find it now but when I first looked at the materials I saw
>or heard that only a minority fraction of the cats that caught prey
>brought any evidence of it back to the house. The number I remember is
>25% of the cats that caught prey - so that would be 7.5% of the cats.
>If someone else spots the right numbers, I'd like to know.
>How would such a study play out here in Australia? I'd guess it would
>be quite similar regarding behaviors. (Wildlife biologists say that
>the template for feline behaviors is pretty limited across feline
>species. Big cats. Little cats. They're all cats. Leaving out lions
>with their unique social structure and various other obvious
>differences amongst cats in breeding behaviors and habitat preferences
>or requirements.) The numbers and types of prey killed would depend on
>where you did it. The prey availability is wildly different here than
>in the US - but feral cats manage to survive in, what, every
>Australian landscape? So, they're presumably eating something.
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