They say dogs have owners, but cats have staff. If I am the staff then my cats are the customers. So, how well do I know my customers? Learning about them is fun so we bought a pet tracking device to find out more.
What we already knew
Merlin is a Norwegian Forest Cat. He comes & goes freely via the cat flap. For about two years now he has worried us repeatedly by disappearing for 24-48hrs at a time. He eats enormous amounts when he’s in but doesn’t seem to put on any weight. In fact, he’s quite muscular for a cat and has chased a few foxes from our garden. He has been known to get stuck in sheds, up trees, and will inspect the interior of our cars if a door is left open.
On one occasion he was gone for three consecutive days. Considering what behaviour traits we had already observed we were convinced he must be stuck in a shed or got into someone’s car & ended up somewhere far away.
It’s often written that tom cats occupy a territorial zone spanning roughly ten gardens. With that stat in mind I canvassed the neighbourhood asking if people had seen him. From that insight I thought he went mostly in one direction and turned back by the time he got two streets away.
What the data said
In comes the first map data. His location is beyond the ten garden area. Immediately we discover that he roams a LOT further than we thought. Literally ten times further.
Merlin walks a 5km loop that takes him way out of town & into the countryside. At the furthest point he’s been tracked to he’s at the top of a fairly steep hill.
The pod tracker was pinging locations to the server every five minutes. Judging by the distance between each ping he travels slowly through hedgerows and woodland areas; faster in clearings and open spaces.
What we learned
- He remains slim because he roams so far. We can feed him all he wants.
- He’s not getting regularly stuck in someone’s shed or garage 🙂
- Given he’s a Norwegian Forest Cat he lives a good life hunting in the woods.
- He’s a successful hunter, not being fed elsewhere. He’s catching his own food.
- We know to look for him in the rural areas should we ever need to.
It’s actually rather alarming how far he travels. When we comes home now we can understand exactly why he’s so tired and hungry. We know what he’s capable of, how independent he is, and that he could easily survive as a feral cat. We understand his character so much more than when we were guessing.
What we want to learn
We’ll keep tracking Merlin for a few weeks to see if he has a routine or pattern. Will he roam less in the colder months? Does he travel the same route every time or mix it up? I’ll plot his explored territory on google maps. Then we can move the tracker to Misty as we currently think (guess) that she doesn’t roam far. To be continued…