Cat cam unlocks secret life of felines

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 12:07 17/12/2013
cat cam

Exclusive footage: Mya Gaby and Heidy Kikillus with Pancho Villa, who is wearing one of their cat cams.

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Just what does your moggy get up to all day? You might be surprised.

During summer two Victoria University researchers plan to shed more light on feline activities in Wellington.

Biologists Dr Heidy Kikillus and masters student Mya Gaby will scan video footage from 10 cats roaming in the suburbs surrounding Karori's 225 hectare Zealandia wildlife sanctuary.

For the study, pet cats who live in the area and are used to collars will carry the 32 gram camera twice a week for several hours to record their activities.

It's hoped the research will be a precursor for a larger survey that would likely include Lower Hutt cats, Ms Kikillus says.

The project was proposed after prominent Wellington economist Gareth Morgan proposed Karori become New Zealand's first "confined cat" suburb to protect Zealandia's native wildlife. "One of the things a lot of Gareth's opponents were saying is that there is little New Zealand research on cat behaviour," Ms Kikillus says. "This project may provide information on the impact cats are having on native wildlife, but it will also give cat owners insights into what their pets are doing."

Similar overseas surveys have sometimes surprised owners, with footage including cats running under cars, getting down sewers, fighting and travelling quite long distances, she says.

The project in Karori is part of a three year collaboration between the Wellington City Council and the university.

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- Hutt News

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