Researchers strapped video cameras on 16 cats and let them do their

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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Ever since video cameras became ultraportable, scientists have strapped them onto animals from sheep to sharks to see how they view and interact with the world around them. But relatively little has been done with cats, perhaps because they’re so hard to work with. Maren Huck is trying to change that. In a study published this month in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the behavioral ecologist at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom placed small cameras on 16 cats and followed them for up to 4 years as they prowled their neighborhoods. Though the study—co-authored by Samantha Watson, an animal behaviorist at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom—was mostly done to gauge the accuracy of the technology, the duo has already made some surprising findings.Huck spoke with Science about the challenges of getting cats to wear video equipment and how the research might dispel some common misconceptions about felines.This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Researchers strapped video cameras on 16 cats and let them do their thing. Here’s what they found Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Q: What prompted you to put cameras on cats? A: One day in 2014, my cat Treacle brought home a merlin. The falcon was as big as she was, and I wondered whether she had really caught it herself—or if she had just grabbed it after it flew into a window. I wanted to keep a video diary of her exploits, so I bought a small camera on the internet; it’s about the diameter of a golf ball, but flatter and much lighter. It can record for about 2.5 hours, and it clips right onto the collar. And it can record in the infrared, so I could track Treacle at night.I collected footage for about 6 months. In that time, I noticed that Treacle vocalized less outside than she did in the house, and that the pitch of the vocalizations was different. She only caught one thing that whole time: a woodmouse. I began wondering if I could do this more scientifically, and follow a larger number of cats, to get a better sense of how they behave when no one is watching.Q: Had similar studies been done on cats before? A: A couple of other studies had put cameras on cats, but they tended to only look at one thing: how often cats cross roads, for example, or how many animals they kill. We wanted to look at a range of behaviors. In some other studies, people directly observed cats. But cats behave much differently when a person is around. When I was outside in the garden with Treacle, she would spend a lot of time sleeping or grooming, probably because she felt protected with me there. When I wasn’t around, she mostly hunted and even interacted with other cats. And you can’t follow a cat when it jumps over a fence.Q: What were the challenges of getting the cats to wear cameras? A: We started with 21 cats, but only 16 tolerated the cameras. The others either started racing around or tried to scratch them off. One mother cat was like this, and when we put the camera on her son, she began hitting him. So we didn’t use either cat.Q: Did the videos reveal any surprises? A: Cats are seen as relatively lazy, especially compared to dogs. But we saw that when they were outside, they became superalert. They scanned their surroundings, sometimes for a half-hour or more on end. And even though cats are highly territorial, they didn’t always fight with other cats they encountered. Often, they just sat a couple of meters away from each other for up to a half an hour. They may have been sizing each other up. Sometimes they would engage in a greeting, briefly touching noses.When they were in their homes, the cats spent a lot of time following their humans around. They liked to be in the same room. A lot of my students were surprised at how attached cats were to people.Q: How do you hope this work will be applied? A: I hope more people put cameras on cats to understand their behavior. There is also debate over whether cats should be kept indoors all the time. If we find that cats seem more bored or stressed out when kept indoors—for example, by pacing, like some animals do at the zoo—that means we need to think more about enriching their indoor lives, or giving them some outside time.Q: You thank the study cats in the paper’s Acknowledgements section. Why?A: I always acknowledge the animals I work with. I’ve been doing that since my Ph.D. thesis. I do feel thankful because if the cats didn’t oblige us, we couldn’t do the study. Email By David GrimmMay. 31, 2019 , 12:00 PMlast_img