Sunday 14 August 2022

Collar-mounted cat predation deterrents do not restrict wandering

You may have heard about the two major collar-mounted cat predation deterrents which are worn by cats. One of them is quite effective (see link below) in that it warns birds of the approach of a domestic cat. It is the Birdsbesafe® collar. The other is called the CatBib. It uses a similar same method in warning prey of a cat attack but is clumsier. And it presents a barrier between prey animal and cat which prevents the cat killing prey.

RELATED: Noticeable, brightly coloured, cat collar protects birds from cat predation (47 – 54% reduction).

In Australia, the authorities often want domestic cats to either live indoors full-time or not wonder so much and therefore reduce their predation on native wildlife species. 

In this study they wanted to find out whether a cat wearing these two predation deterrents decided to wander less as a consequence. I guess the theory is or was that if a wondering domestic cat is unable to attack birds because they fly off because of the collar they are wearing they may then decide to give up and stay at home. I am simplifying the process but I think that that is the theory of it.

Well, they found that it did not curb wandering. They say that the 30 cats that took part in the study did not reduce their home range significantly. On my reading of the summary of the study they actually increased their home range!

RELATED: Cat Bib – good or bad?

When they wore the brightly coloured Birdsbesafe® collar (see above), their "mean home range" i.e. more or less the average home range was 0.5 ha when not wearing the collar and 0.58 ha when wearing the collar.

This means that they wandered more when they wore the collar. With the Catbib, the researchers state that the mean home range was 2.79 ha when they wore the device and 2.46 ha without it. Once again, they wandered more and further when they wore the CatBib.

I wonder, therefore, if wearing these collars had the reverse effect. It appears that the cats were encountering difficulties in attacking birds because of the collars and therefore they had to try harder and travel further to obtain success.

The study is called: "Do collar-mounted predation deterrence restrict wandering in pet domestic cats? The worked out of Environment and Conservation Cluster, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia. The lead scientist was Catherine M Hall.

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