Cafe Sci

Taming the living-room lion

1st July 2020

Dr. Sarah Crowley will be speaking to us about managing hunting behaviour in domestic cats.

About the talk

Cats are animals of two halves: they are both affectionate companions and extremely efficient predators. Here in the UK, most of our 10 million pet cats roam freely outdoors, and the majority of cat owners are familiar with finding a flurry of feathers in the kitchen, or a dead mouse on the doormat. Not only is this an unpleasant experience, but some conservation organisations are concerned that high levels of predation by cats is negatively impacting vulnerable wildlife populations, and especially small birds.

Our ‘Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife’ project has been working closely with cat owners to understand how they feel about the behaviour and impacts of their ‘living-room lions’, and to investigate how we might reduce number of animals killed by cats without harming – and hopefully enhancing – cat health or welfare. In this talk, Sarah will explain why our pampered pets still hunt and why controlling this poses an ethical dilemma for cat owners. She will also introduce our recent experimental study which, with the assistance of more than 400 cats (and their owners!), is helping us to identify promising new techniques for managing your cat’s hunting behaviour.

About our speaker

Dr Sarah Crowley is an anthrozoologist and environmental social scientist at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. The ‘Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife’ project is sponsored by independent conservation charity Songbird Survival. Read more about the project here.

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