'Cat Tracker' study reveals the secret wanderings of 900 house cats

Understanding where outdoor cats go is important for keeping them, and native wildlife, safe.

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Each cat in the study wore a harness with a GPS device for a week to track where they went.

The goal of the massive international Cat Tracker project was simple: find out where pet cats go when they’re outside. Researchers have tried to tackle this question in the past, either by following cats on foot (good luck!) or by putting radio-transmitters on collars around cats’ necks, but Cat Tracker was singular in its scale—nearly a thousand cats across four countries wore GPS trackers for a week to shed light on how far they range and where they go.

After six years, the results are in. Published in the journal Animal Conservation, a new report the Cat Tracker team compiled data across continents to find that for most cats, there’s no place like home.

“I was surprised at how little these cats moved,” says lead author Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “Most of them spent all their time within 100 meters [330 feet] of their yard.” While it’s good news that most cats aren’t wandering into natural areas, the study reveals that pet cats nonetheless can cause ecological mayhem and put themselves in danger. (Read...

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