The secret life of the cat has been shown as a series on BBC2 and offers an insight into cat behaviour rarely seen by the owners and public. Cameras around the rooms in several houses show us what cats are up to whilst the house is empty and and what they get up to whilst we are asleep   Collar cameras were also fitted to the cats to show their activities as were GPS trackers to show how far they roamed.
The secret life of the cat documentary by the Horizon team showed that cats are not averse to entering other peoples and cats homes via cat flaps and eating other cats meals.
In this experiment 50 cats were tagged in a Surrey village to record all their movements 24 hours per day.
One of the cats owners had always wondered why after putting her cat on a diet it was not losing weight, now she knows. Although we consider cats domesticated once they are outside their powerful hunter instinct comes to the fore. The Secret Life of Cats certainly revealed what our felines got up to when out of our site and the results were surprising and enlightening.
Advertise Your Pet BusinessYou can add your pet related business to the Net Pets website free of charge. My research team has used this technology to develop some very specialised wildlife tracking tags and collars. Each of the collars also had a small radio transmitter, so if the collar did fall off we could track it down. Being on site enabled us to examine the data as soon as it came off the collars, and to work closely with behaviour specialists Dr Sarah Ellis, of the University of Lincoln, and Dr John Bradshaw, of Bristol University, to interpret early results and decide how the study should progress. The project was fascinating for us as we were able to learn so much about cats and their human interactions.


More on this story Secret life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?
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Yet, despite our domestic cats playing a big role in our lives, we know surprisingly little about what they get up to.
They use a combination of high-accuracy GPS and electronic sensors to record the activity and movement of animals ranging from pigeons to big cats. Perhaps we think we know about them because they are so familiar to us - living in our homes and being part of our families. Luckily we only lost a couple, so we were able to collect a very complete data set from all the cats we tracked.So, with our equipment developed and our village of cats ready for action, my research team moved with their computers into Shamley Green Village Hall for the main week of the study in April this year. For example, the collar data helped us to decide where to place fixed cameras by identifying activity hotspots. Often our findings would contradict what owners believed their cats were getting up to.We were particularly surprised by how small the ranges of most of the cats were, and how few of them went into the surrounding countryside. The sale of GPS data recording shot up 350% after the programmes went out and Amazon orders are the fastest pre selling pet supply. A research project by BBC2's Horizon and the Royal Veterinary College set out to find out more. In fact, we know less about some aspects of their behaviour than we do about many wild cats.


The data also told us how active each cat was, which helped us choose which cats to fit with "cat cam" collars. The show also gave rise to many of having heightened suspicions about our cats private lives.
So the Horizon programme and the study in our chosen village - Shamley Green in Surrey - was a fantastic opportunity to find out some of this missing information. One theory is that their roaming is dictated by the hunt for food - something more easily done in the village. Studying animals in the wild without disturbing their natural behaviour has never been easy, but over the past few years a lot of new technology has come along to help us. We have also discovered how often they hunt, how often they make a kill and new information about their athletic capabilities. The biggest challenge for the team was to make the tracking equipment - the GPS and activity sensor tags - small and light enough for domestic cats to wear around their necks on safety-release collars. It was also interesting to see how much variation there was in the cats' activity patterns through the day. This was influenced by many factors, such as the weather, temperature, feeding times and owner's timetables.



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