"Oh no, little Felix doesn't stray too far from the house at night. He's an indoor kind of cat."
That's exactly what some of the feline owners of a recent GPS tracking experiment thought - right up until they got the results back.
A total of 25 cats were fitted with GPS trackers in Australia by the Central Tablelands Local Land Services, in the hopes of raising awareness about just how far domestic cats can wander when left to their own devices.
"Cats are given a pretty bad rap. In terms of the damage they do to biodiversity, to native fauna and flora," Peter Evans, a senior land officer, told Mashable. "You always get the comment from owners that their cat doesn't roam ... but we thought it was a great visual to show owners where cats go when they don't know where they are, because generally a lot of cats are unrestrained."
While some of the cats refused to participate in the study (they lay rigid when the tracking harness was fitted) 14 wore a GPS unit for between one and 14 days. The resulting maps drawn by the mogs' travels. "If you look at some of the tracks, it's phenomenal how much they're out in the streets," said Evans. "Some of the cats have stayed relatively close - 10, 15 or 20 doors down - and we've actually had one cat that's gone three kilometres from home."
The point of all this? "We're hoping that people think about what dangers a cat can pose to itself, in terms of how often they're crossing the road and encountering other cats," said Evans. Which is basically an effort to say we should try herding cats.