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Predation and Risk Behaviors of Free-Roaming Owned Cats in Auckland, New Zealand via the Use of Animal-Borne Cameras

By Stephanie J. Bruce, Sarah Zito, M. Carolyn Gates, Glenn Aguilar, Jessica K. Walker, Nick Goldwater, Arnja Dale

Category Journal Articles

Free-roaming cats are at increased risk of injuring themselves as well as other domestic
and fauna species, yet relatively little is known about the frequency at which risk and
predation behaviors occur in a typical day. In this study, cat risk, and predation behavioral
information was collected using animal-borne video cameras and global positioning
system (GPS) units that were attached to break-free cat collars. The observation period
was one to three consecutive days for 37 convenience sampled free-roaming owned
cats in Auckland, New Zealand. Video footage was manually reviewed and all predation
and risk behavior events were recorded. These included stalking, pursuing, and seizing
prey as well as altercations with other cats, ingesting harmful substances, and venturing
into hazardous locations such as roads and storm drains. During the observation period,
23 of the 37 cats (62.2%) engaged in a total of 121 predation events. Of these, 40
resulted in successful prey capture with 18 of the 40 captures involving New Zealand
native fauna species. Invertebrates were the most common taxa preyed upon (n = 55;
46%), followed by skinks (n = 8; 7%). No mammalian, avian or amphibian prey were
captured and no cat took prey back to their residence. A total of 326 risk behaviors were
observed for 32 out of the 37 cats (86.5%) with the most common being cats venturing
onto the road (n = 132; 41%). Younger cats (aged 1–6 six years) engaged in significantly
more predation and risk behaviors than older cats (aged 7 years and above). Sex, breed,
number of cats in a household, and geographic location were not found to be predictors
of cats’ participation in predation or risk behaviors. Given the high frequency of predation
and risk behaviors in free-roaming owned cats, it may be beneficial to educate owners
about strategies to minimize risk such as housing them indoors, containing them to their
properties or monitoring their time spent outdoors.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 6
Pages 12
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2019.00205
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Australia
  5. Cats
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. predation
  10. stray animals
  1. open access