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Cats are notoriously enigmatic. These mysterious little beasties cuddle and purr one minute, and the next, they are territorial guardians spitting at our windows, or wild hunters slinking furtively through the underbrush. But a rising interest in what our feline friends do with their spare time has combined with ever-smaller bits of useful technology to create some answers – finally – for cat lovers of all kinds.
GPS for pets is growing in popularity, and cats are by no means immune. From cat parents who are afraid of losing their beloved pets, to those who just want to know where on earth their friend has spent most of its day, many are turning to GPS as a solution. Caroline Paul is one high-profile example of a cat mom who had to know. She discovered that her cat, Tibia, was leading a double life when he came home fat, happy, and not hungry on a regular basis. Clearly Tibia was getting food and attention elsewhere – but where? In a new book, Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology, Caroline shares her glimpse into Tibia's world.
Cameras are another way to learn what a cat has been up to. National Geographic and The University of Georgia attached a "critter cam" a group of housecats to see life from their perspectives. Imagine the surprise as these ordinary housecats caught footage of battling dogs and an opossum, making friends with another cat, hunting birds, reptiles, and rodents, and eating Chex Mix! It turns out that outdoor cats do a lot of hunting that they never bring home; recent studies show that between 50% and 80% of cats that are allowed to go outside are hunters, and they are killing many more rodents and birds than might be expected.
Of course, ultimately the thing we care the most about is our cat's safety. Regardless of your cat's access to the great outdoors (even indoor cats are vulnerable to the allure of an open window or cracked door), the most reliable ways to ensure that he or she comes home are through a collar with tags and a microchip. Tags with name and address immediately identify your cat as owned, and either from the area or way out of a normal cat territory. Many humane societies and veterinarians also scan for microchips regularly, and these devices stay in place even if a collar is lost along the way.
The GPS and cameras are icing on the cake, fulfilling our innate sense of curiosity. Microchip and collar are the bread-and-butter staple of making sure that kitty comes home.