How far does our outside cat roam about? National Geographic finds out.

Watch: How Far Do Your Cats Roam?

The new Cat Tracker project maps outdoor movements of pet felines.



Ever wondered where your cat slinks off to when it goes outside?
Watch the entire video.

Cat Tracker, a new crowdsourced mapping project, encourages owners to put GPS collars on domestic cats to monitor their movements and activities around—and sometimes well beyond—the ‘hood. (Watch a video about the secret lives of cats.)

The resulting data could help conservationists save wildlife that the cats prey on, as well as reveal new insights into cat behavior, experts say.

Our pet cats are a pretty lazy bunch, sleeping or at least lying around well over 90 percent of the time. But still, when that screen door shuts behind them, our felines are prone to roam. (Also see “What Do Cats Think About Us? You May Be Surprised.”)

One thing that makes the Cat Tracker project different from other animal-tracking efforts is that anyone in the U.S.—and now in New Zealand and Australia—can participate. A cat owner must simply buy or borrow a GPS unit and make a harness to hold it on the cat, using a method explained on the Cat Tracker website.

After seven days, owners download the tracking data (also explained online), and boom, the cat’s movements are transformed into a starburst of lines on a satellite map.

So far, the Cat Tracker team—a partnership between Your Wild Lifeand the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in collaboration with Movebank, an online database that houses animal-movement data—has posted movement maps for about 50 cats. They’re aiming for at least a thousand before this phase of the project finishes.

Source: National Geographic