Loyd, Kerrie Anne Therese
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There are an estimated 50-60 million owned, free-roaming cats in the United States today. The behavior of domestic cats (Felis catus) in the outdoors is a controversial subject requiring further research to address cat predation on wildlife, as well as threats to cat welfare while they are roaming. We used point-of-view video cameras (KittyCams) to investigate the activities of roaming pet cats in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia during 2010-2011. Project results suggest that approximately 44% of roaming cats hunt wildlife, and that reptiles, small mammals and invertebrates are common prey in suburban areas. Eighty-five percent of wildlife was captured during warmer weather (March-November). KittyCams video revealed that cats consumed or abandoned the majority of captured prey rather than depositing prey at their residence. Eighty-five percent of project cats were witnessed exhibiting at least one risk behavior during one week of roaming. The most common risk factors experienced by suburban free-roaming cats included: crossing roads, encountering strange cats, eating and drinking substances away from home, exploring storm drain systems and entering crawlspaces. Male cats were more likely to engage in risk behavior than female cats and older cats engaged in fewer risk behaviors than younger individuals.