Behaviour characterisation of companion cats in Auckland, New Zealand via the use of camera and GPS technologies : predation, risk behaviours, activity levels and home range
Bruce, Stephanie Jean
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Citation:Bruce, S. J. (2018). Behaviour characterisation of companion cats in Auckland, New Zealand via the use of camera and GPS technologies : predation, risk behaviours, activity levels and home range. An unpublished thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Practice, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/4310
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Free-roaming companion cats are capable of predating and participating in risk behaviours, potentially contributing to the decline of New Zealand’s native wildlife populations and negatively impacting upon cat welfare. The extent to which companion cats predate and perform risk behaviours in New Zealand is largely unknown, as are the factors that impact the likelihood of cats engaging in these behaviours. To better manage companion cats, both in terms of their welfare and their possible impact on the country’s native wildlife species, it must first be understood how companion cats behave. The current study aimed to assess companion cat predation, risk behaviours, activity levels and home ranges; to provide useful information for determining appropriate cat management strategies. METHODS: KittyCam˝ video camera and Petrek˝ GPS technology was used to capture the behaviours and track the movements of 37 companion cats within Auckland, New Zealand. Paired t-tests, one factor analysis of variances, Pearson correlation coefficient tests and 95% minimum convex polygons were used to analyse the data. RESULTS: 121 predation events were observed; 40 involved successful prey capture and 18 involved native wildlife species. 326 risk behaviours were observed, the most common being cats crossing the road or being on the road. Daytime activity levels averaged 0.97hrs (97% of one hour = 58.2 minutes) per cat, night time activity levels averaged 1.06hrs per cat and overall activity levels (daytime and night time combined) averaged 2.03 hours (hrs) per cat. Home range size ranged from 0.0018ha to 3.23ha. The influence of individual and environmental factors varied and presented relationships that could be utilised in cat management strategies. Activity levels were found to influence the expression of predation behaviours but not risk behaviours. Home range size was not found to influence the expression of predation and risk behaviours or activity levels. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that companion cats predate upon native wildlife species and participate in potentially dangerous risk behaviours, possibly putting themselves and wildlife populations at risk. To protect native wildlife species and cat welfare in New Zealand, it is suggested that companion cats be managed with this information in mind.