Where is Your Cat??
We think you'd be suprised!
And here's why...
Have you ever said
- "Other cats kill birds, but not my cat!"
- "My cat stays in his yard. He (she) never wanders."
- "I always know where my cat is!"
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then read on...
Carol Fiore's study found feathers in cat fecal material from cats whose owners
claimed their cats NEVER killed birds. In fact one owner was shocked to discover that
feathers were found in her cat's scat more than 13 different times! Radio
tracking revealed that owners had very little knowledge of the whereabouts of
their cats (Fiore 2000). As Thomas (1994) remarked "We don't see them, we don't hear
them, and we don't find their tracks". Other researchers have observed that cats do not
like to be watched or stared at (Beadle 1977). Could your cat be altering its behavior
when you are around? Remember, not all cats present prey to their owners (as Carol
Fiore's study clearly shows). Haspel et al. (1993), Tabor (1983), and Goldsmith et al. (1991) have
all shown that cats are more active at night. If your cat is roaming at night, how can you possibly
know what it is doing? Don't be so sure it isn't killing. Even if you have your cat's fecal
material analyzed, kills may still go undetected as not all cats eat their prey. Are you REALLY sure your
cat isn't wandering?
Incidentially, it has been shown that kittens reared in environments with no access to prey often become efficient predators
as adults (Thorne 1992). Hunting is a natural part of the cat's behavior. It is not appropriate
to call it "bad". It is part of what a cat is. We wouldn't think to call a lion or tiger
"bad" for killing prey, and it is the same with our pets. However, as their owners we are in a
position to ensure that the killing does not occur. Keep Fluffy indoors. Carol Fiore has remarked
that in analyzing cat fecal material she often found cockroaches, crickets, and other insects. An indoor
cat may actually help rid your home of some pests. It is likely that homes containing
indoor cats rarely have mouse problems. Carol tells us she sees a future study there!
Beadle, M. 1977. The cat: history, biology, and behavior. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Fiore, C. 2000. The ecological implications of urban domestic cat (Felis catus) predation
on birds in the city of Wichita, Kansas [thesis]. Wichita State University (KS). 179 p.
Goldsmith, A., W.W. Shaw, and J. Schelhas (School of Renewable Natural Resources, University
of Arizona). 1991. The impacts of domestic dogs and cats on the wildlife of Saguaro National Monument.
Final report Nov91. U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, Western region. Cooperative
agreement no. CA 8000-1-0002. Cooperative agreement order no. CA 8013-1-0002. 27p.
Haspel, C. and R.E. Calhoon. 1993. Activity patterns of free-ranging cats in Brooklyn,
New York. Journal of Mammology 74(1): 1-8.
Tabor, R. 1983. The wild life of the domestic cat. London(England): Arrow Books.
Thomas, E.M. 1994. The tribe of tiger. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc.
Thorne, C. 1992. The Waltham book of dog and cat behaviour. Oxford(England): Pergamon Press.
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