The scientists who follow cats…

Tonight’s Horizon on the BBC is about cats, what they do and where they go. I have always been fascinated to know where our own cat goes at night (not far, I suspect, she’s not the most active cat). I have previously pondered the idea of putting a camera about her person somewhere for 24 hours but since our video camera is about the same size as our cat I haven’t put these vague ponderings into action.

How can I strap this to the cat?

How can I strap this to the cat?

Now I don’t have to, or at least, I can see where other people’s cats have been.

The paths the cats in the study took

The paths the cats in the study took

The first little clip from the BBC news article I watched was Orlando’s, the caption read ‘Orlando has a nasty experience’. We were eating breakfast at the time. Not recommended viewing during eating.

Two of my favourite clips are ‘Ginger confronts a rival cat at night’ complete with haunting howling and mysterious foreboding ‘rival’ cat’s eyes and ‘Phoebe escapes from a laundry basket’ as the domestic nature and ordinariness of this video appeals to me.

Cat cam in action

Cat cam in action

I imagine that most of the footage is actually quite dull and hard to watch given the movement of the cats’ heads. But it is as fascinating to see the tracking of their wanderings as it is their activities. This idea taps into my interest in videos of the ordinary, the mundane, and finding something interesting and extraordinary in the ordinary and mundane. I’m looking forward to watching the programme tonight to see what the clever cat cam people conclude about cats’ nocturnal (and daytime) wanderings.

This isn’t the first time this sort of study has been done. In 2012 some scientists at the University of Georgia conducted a wide-ranging experiment along similar lines (but with bigger cameras) charting sixty cats’ activities. Their study was aimed at finding out how much killing of prey cats do. They found that 30% of their cats killed two or more prey a week, which they seemed to think was quite astonishing. This of course is an average. We had a cat called Liquorice who in the summer months averaged of two per night.

Liquorice - that lean mean fighting machine

Liquorice – that lean mean fighting machine

So should I invest in a cat cam? I might just have to put it on my Christmas List.


BBC News item ‘Secret life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?’, [last accessed 13 June 2013]

Golgowski, N. ‘Kittycam reveals domestic cats’ secret double-life as America’s killing machines’  (8 August 2012) Mail Online [last accessed 13 June 2013]


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