Have you always wondered where your cat goes when you see them leaving the house in the morning? At least 70% of cat owners allow their cat to roam away from their property, but do we really know where these cats go once, we open the door?
The Cradle Coast Cat Tracker Project wanted to unravel the mystery and the results are in.
This was a pilot project to test the success of the tracking equipment and the sample size was limited to 20 cats. Eleven cats were successfully tracked for seven days using a light-weight GPS tracker attached to a harness fitted with break-away safety clips. The other nine cats either refused to wear the harness or lost their harness during the tracking period. While this is a small sample size it does provide us with an important insight into the home ranges of cats living in peri-urban areas.
The size of the home ranges of the 11 cats varied from 0.2 to 7 hectares, with a median size of 1.4 hectares. Cats from rural areas tended to have larger home ranges compared to cats from urban and urban-edge environments. For every cat we counted the number of properties that were covered by their home range. The median number of properties visited were 12.5, 15 and 4.5 properties for urban, urban-edge and rural cats. As expected, rural cats crossed fewer roads per day than urban and urban-edge cats, which is most likely because they have fewer roads in their home range (1, 3, and 3 respectively).
Map of Billy’s movements
This project shows that cats in the Cradle Coast region regularly roam away from their owner’s property visiting numerous neighbours and crossing approximately 3 roads a day. We hope that providing cat owners with information on how far the average cat roams and what potential dangers they may encounter will help them make informed decisions about their cat’s safety and care.
This research was approved by the Tasmania Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee (project number 20261) and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Animal Ethics Committee (project number 15/2019-20).