"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.
The lone ranger
Given this mog's route along a main road, we think it probably caught a lift in a cab.
Every neighbourhood has one - the slut cat that calls in just to see if you've got a saucer of milk going spare.
HAD TOO MUCH CAT NIP. CAN'T STOP MOVING. CURVED LINES ARE A WASTE OF TIME.
Chase sequence cat
We might be wrong, but those look like the tracks of a cat trying to lose another cat in a cross-town chase sequence...
Knocked outta the park
So this can't have happened, yet it looks to all the world like this intrepid feline has been batted out of a cricket oval into the wilderness, before beelining it home. That, or there was an issue with the GPS.
On the hunt
Somewhere in this mad dash through the streets, we expect several small mammals met their end.
Typical fat cat behaviour: sure, it does make it out of the house, but it largely keeps itself to its own garden, only running further afield when a bigger cat turns up - or, given that this is Australia - a snake.
(Images: CENTRAL TABLELANDS LOCAL LAND SERVICES)