Twenty-one feral cats were radio-tracked using direct sighting and triangulation techniques (amassing 730 location fixes) during winter in an agricultural landscape in central-western New South Wales. Factors affecting home-range size, home-range overlap and habitat use were assessed. Mean home-range size was 248 ha (s.e. = 34.9, n = 15 cats, 598 location fixes). Home-range size and habitat use were not influenced by sex or age of adult cats, prey abundance or time of day. However, cat weight significantly influenced range size, with heavier cats having larger ranges than smaller cats. Although the cats are apparently solitary, their home ranges overlapped considerably, particularly between young adults and old adult cats. Cats were active both by day and night and did not occupy permanent dens. Home ranges encompassed mixed habitat types that provided both shelter and prey. Open woodland and open forest were the main habitat types covered by home ranges, but within these areas cats showed a preference for grassland, where rabbits were more abundant. The results recorded in this study indicate that cat-control programs should concentrate in mixed habitat areas, where both shelter and food are available, and over widely dispersed areas. The absence of group living suggests that the effectiveness of virally vectored fertility or biological control agents would be limited.
|Author||Robyn Molsher, Chris Dickman, Alan Newsome and Warren Müller|
|Secondary title||Wildlife Research|