GPS Collars Track Domestic Cats
June 15, 2013

Cats Tracked With Same Technology Used To Study Cheetahs

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

A team of scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, has teamed up with BBC Two´s Horizon program to miniaturize GPS tracking collars, originally used to study hunting cheetahs in Botswana, to follow 50 domestic cats in a Surrey Village. The cats were also outfitted with cat-cams that were turned on by the collar´s activity sensor when the cat was moving.

In this groundbreaking study, the wanderings of domestic cats were recorded, showing us how far our feline friends roam and what they get up to when they leave their owners behind. Because cats are known to use the neighbor´s cat-doors to steal food, the team used the GPS to tell them when the cats were indoors so the cameras could be turned off.

Professor Alan Wilson and his colleagues are currently studying the cheetah, using innovative tracking collars with GPS and motion sensors. They have recorded hunting cheetahs running at a top speed of 58 mph, along with the first data on the animal´s maneuvers and acceleration. The findings of this study were published in the journal Nature.

Professor Wilson said, “If we understand an animal´s speed and maneuverability we will be able to see how managing habitats will have an impact on predators and hunting.”

For the BBC Two´s Horizon program, the team used their experiences with the cheetahs to design the technology for the study on domestic cats. Along with the miniaturized technology, Wilson´s team designed the protocol, programmed the collars and analyzed the data of the domestic cat.

“Our motivation for getting involved in the programme is to showcase scientific research methods to the public and demonstrate science is cool. It´s an excellent large-scale deployment opportunity for our tracking collars and the analysis tools used for our studies on wild animals. Ironically we knew more about cheetahs than domestic cats, until this study,” said Wilson.

BBC Two Horizon aired the original program, “The Secret Life of the Cat” on June 13.