Kitty cameras show Athens cats on the prowl - CBS46 News

Kitty cameras show Athens cats on the prowl

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ATHENS, GA (CBS46) -

National Geographic and the University of Georgia Kitty Cams Project captured the actions of cats wearing cameras on the collars from November 2010 to October 2011.

During that time, 55 cats collected an average of 37 hours of video a piece.

The videos show cats walking around their homes, stalking birds, eating lizards, walking through sewers and in some cases climbing trees and walking on roofs.

The goal of the project was to learn about the predatory practices of cats - specifically, how much wildlife they were killing in their suburban environments.

"Cats aren't as bad as the biologists thought," said Ph.D student Kerrie Anne Loyd. 

Loyd is with the Wildlife Ecology and Management at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

The researchers worked under UGA professor Sonia Hernandez, documenting the cats during all four seasons.

Common household cats were required to wear the cameras for seven to 10 days when their owners let them out of the house.

During their research, researchers reviewed more than 2,000 hours of footage. They determined that the cats "did not hunt as much as we thought," according to Loyd. 

"About 44 percent of cats engaged in predatory behavior. We found in suburban areas, they are catching small lizards and small snakes, so that was surprising. They were also eating worms and catching butterflies, things they would never bring home. So without this camera, we'd have no idea what they were doing," said Loyd.

The younger male cats were more prone to participate in what Loyd called "risky" behavior.

"Some cats do cross the road quite a bit, and are going down the storm drain and drinking run-off from the road," said Loyd.

Jared Harper let two of his cats, Buddy and Baby, wear the Kitty Cams. For 10 days in October, Harper watched as his cats ate lizards, walked around the front and backyards, crossed the street and went down storm drains.

"Buddy even killed a copperhead," said Harper. 

Despite all the video showing his cat did exhibit risky behavior, Harper said he would never think about not letting his cat out of the house.

"They weren't doing anything terribly dangerous, or would put them in jeopardy," said Harper.  "We wouldn't change our behavior with our cats."

Loyd said the research is the first step to learning even more information about how cats impact their environments.

For more information on the project, you can log on to www.kittycams.uga.edu.

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