Domestic cats in Cape Town, South Africa, roam up to 18 kilometers (11 miles) a day during the city’s warmer months, spending a great deal of time in the Table Mountain National Park, according to GPS tracking devices.
The first of its kind involving pet cats in Africa, a GPS-tracking study used miniature devices connected to the collars of 14 cats for 10 days in the summer, along with nine cats over a week-long period in winter. Half of the cats were categorized as “urban” pets, as their homes were surrounded by roads and houses, and were more than 150 meters away from natural areas. The others, who had easy access to the national park, were labeled “urban edge” pets.
Scientists previously declared that Cape Town’s cats kill approximately 27.5 million animals annually. The city is currently home to 300,000 pet cats, and studies have shown that each one kills between 59 and 123 animals a year. “Given that cats exact a massive toll on native animals, mitigation measures to protect biodiversity in protected areas are essential,” said researchers in the journal Animals. “Keeping cats indoors, particularly in summer, limiting their roaming with catios and adding bells and bright ruffs on collars can also reduce predation on native prey.”
Most cat owners are unaware of the impact that their pet felines have on wild animals. An earlier study proved that 90% of cats’ hunting occurs at night and less than 20% of their prey is brought home.