Seasonal Movement Patterns of Urban Domestic Cats Living on the Edge in an African City

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

How domestic cats use open spaces around their homes is unstudied in Africa, and this has conservation implications given their high rate of predation on native prey. We GPStracked a sample of cats in summer and winter to understand habitat and area use and distances travelled. Since Cape Town surrounds the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP), we also determined how often cats ventured into protected areas. A far greater proportion of cats (59% of 78) returned prey home in summer than winter (30% of 27), and summer ranges were significantly greater and ca. three-fold larger than those in winter (3.00 ha vs. 0.87 ha). Urban-edge (UE) cats travelled up to 850 m from their homes and both urban (U) and UE cats entered natural habitat. All seven GPS-collared UE cats (and one of seven U) ventured into protected areas in summer and two of four UE (and two of five U) cats did so in winter. Thus, our data suggest that cats may regularly hunt in protected areas, especially in summer. Yet they may also limit the time spent in such habitats due to predation risk from meso-carnivores. The threat to biodiversity in protected areas by owned cats necessitates further layers of protection. Cat-free buffers of ~600 m, based on the average movements reported here, may reduce domestic cat predation in protected areas.