The secret life of aloof Albury cats tracked and exposed

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The wanderings of one particular tracked cat. Owners are often surprised with how far their pets travel. Picture: Discovery Circle
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The wanderings of one particular tracked cat. Owners are often surprised with how far their pets travel. Picture: Discovery Circle

Owners might soon have more of an insight into the mysterious lives of Australia’s most covert pet, the cat. 

As a part of a national study, residents will soon be able to discover whether ‘Snowy’ or ‘Simba’ have another family, a long-distance lover, or simply like to nap in the backyard.

The Albury Conservation Company has funding to track 80 pet cats in Thurgoona and surrounds to contribute to a national study on feline behaviour and help owners care for their pet.

Coordinator Sam Niedra said Dr Philip Roetman of the University of South Australia successfully trialed a pilot study which will now be expanded to track 1400 pet cats nationally. 

The median distance travelled by cats in the pilot was one hectre, the size of eight Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The most adventurous cat travelled about 30 hectares.

Picture: Discovery Circle

Picture: Discovery Circle

Mr Niedra said participating cats were fitted with a GPS collar for a week.

“I’ve been a cat owner before and know that you really have no idea where they go if they’re out during the day,” he said.

“It gives owners a really strong understanding of where their cat goes – does it stay around the house or did it cross the freeway and travel to the tip?

“It equips owners with real feedback on how they can manage their cat’s behaviour in the future and whether they should be concerned they might be at risk.”

The study also can identify whether a cat has wandering eyes.

“There’s definitely scope to pick up things like whether there’s a particular location they frequent or another household,” Mr Neidra said. 

“It also provides insight into cat behaviours on a national level.”

Mr Neidra said new developments in Thurgoona had cat containment regulations, meaning cats must be confined to the owner’s property. 

He said it would be particularly interesting to see the findings in light of that policy. 

The company has worked for 18 months to bring the program to Albury, investing money and partnering with Murray Local Landcare Services and the NSW Department of Industry Land.

Interested residents can register their pet by completing a questionnaire on the Discover Circle’s website

Picture: Discovery Circle

Picture: Discovery Circle