Credit Amy Norris

Tommy the cat. Image courtesy of Amy Norris.

Cornwall cats needed for behaviour study

Where does your cat go when it leaves the house? What does it eat?

What sort of personality does it have?

Scientists from the University of Exeter want to help you find out, as part of an international study into feline behaviour.

Researchers at the University’s Penryn Campus want Cornwall cat owners to put their pets forward to take part.

“We want to understand more about where cats go, how they behave and how individual cats differ,” said Dr Jenni McDonald.

“One of our aims is to see how roaming behaviour relates to personality. By owners completing a survey, we can rate cats according to five personality traits including friendliness, skittishness and outgoingness. We can then compare this with their roaming and feeding behaviour.”

Data will be gathered via surveys and GPS harnesses worn by cats for nine days. The scientists will also analyse hair samples to see if they can determine whether cats are eating while they’re away from home.

Participating cat owners will receive a map of their cat's tracks, a cat personality report and any information revealed about their cat's diet.

Similar research is being carried out in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and the results will show whether cat behaviour varies in the different countries.

“In a way we’re making cats into citizen scientists,” said Dr McDonald. “Even though we have eight million cats in the UK, we don’t know much about how they interact with their environment and what makes one cat a couch potato and another an intrepid explorer.

“Cats are an important part of our society yet we don’t know what happens when they leave the house – what goes on beyond the cat flap.”

This study is funded by the British Ecological Society. To get involved and for more information, visit

Date: 12 June 2017

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