When I was a child, our furry family members were indoor/outdoor cats. Much like indoor/outdoor carpeting, they were tough and durable – though perhaps not as weather resistant. Now the proud parent of my own three beautiful felines, I would never dream of allowing them to wander the great world beyond the windows. My kitties are indoors only, and I often tell them just how lucky they are. However, I still wonder what sort of mischief other indoor/outdoor cats get up to on their journeys around the block.
Apparently, this has been a question in the mind of Kerri Anne Loyd as well. Loyd is a researcher at the University of Georgia, and she has been studying the secret outdoor lives of house cats. After recruiting 60 feline participants in the Athens, Georgia area and equipping them with cameras courtesy of National Geographic Remote Imaging, her study has gathered more than 2,000 hours of cat cam footage.
So what were these domestic cats up to when they weren’t lounging on the couch at home? Some stalked neighbors’ chickens and other prey animals. While Loyd’s cameras recorded dozens of cat versus prey encounters, the perpetrators generally played with their captives for a short while before wandering off. They rarely relocated or consumed their victims.
Others climbed roofs, traversed walls and camped out under cars. Some engaged in dangerous activities, such as crossing the road. According to Loyd’s data, 85 percent of the cats observed experienced at least one “risk behavior” each week, indicating that indoor/outdoor cats do lead lives that are more perilous. Personally, I suspected as much. My childhood cats frequently came home with cuts, scratches, bites and other injuries that sometimes required a trip to the vet. I am now happy to keep my girls safely at home.
If you’d like to learn more about the National Geographic and University of Georgia Kitty Cams Project, visit their website at www.kittycams.uga.edu.
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