The mysterious comings and goings of our feline friends just got a little less mysterious. Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College loaded a group of cats in Shamley Green, Surrey, with cameras and GPS trackers to figure out how roaming house cats spend their days.
Professor Alan Wilson, a research scientist and veterinarian at the Structure & Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College, led the project to capture the wandering movements of the domestic cat. Although GPS tracking has been used to track the movement of wild cats, Wilson explains in an article for the BBC, it hasn't been used on domestic cats. In fact, he adds, we know less about certain aspects of domestic cat behavior than we do about wild cats'. So Wilson and his team outfitted the cats with lightweight GPS trackers that recorded data only when the cat was in motion and tiny cameras.
One of the interesting things they learned about the cats of Shamley Green is that they appear to "time share" territory, ranging into overlapping territory at different times of the day to avoid territorial conflicts. They also tended to stay within the confines of the village, rarely venturing into the surrounding countryside. And of course, no two cats had quite the same ranging patterns.
You can see some of the cat maps below, but the BBC has an interactive feature that allows you to see timelapse maps for each cat, as well as videos of and details about these wandering felines.