Q: I live in the country and have three indoor-outdoor cats. I know it’s risky for them to go outside, but they love it. A friend chastises me, claiming that cats kill songbirds. My cats love their food, so I doubt they are hunting and eating wildlife. How can I prove that to my friend?
A: Sign your cats up for an intriguing new study aimed at answering the questions you raise. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Your Wild Life and Movebank are collaborating to study indoor-outdoor cats’ adventures and diets.
The study has three parts:
In the Movement project, your cats will wear small GPS units that track their journeys over ten days.
For the Diet project, you’ll submit samples of your cats’ hair and regular food, so scientists can compare them chemically to determine whether the cats are ingesting wildlife or other food away from home.
In the Personality project, you’ll answer questions about your cats’ personalities and behaviors. Researchers will then be able to match personality types with movement and wildlife consumption to identify the personality characteristics associated with hunting.
To learn more and sign up to participate in the study, visit cats.yourwildlife.org. You might be surprised at the secret lives your cats enjoy when they venture from your home.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at AskDrLee@insurefigo.com.