Thursday 25 November 2021

Cats in the news (mews?) - felines can track their owner’s location, and 250,000 are feral in the UK

There has been a recent flurry of news stories in the UK media concerning cats, with some fascinating findings.

Researchers have discovered that cats have ‘the ability to picture the invisible in their minds’ with findings showing that they can imagine a mental representation of their owners even when they can’t see them. Studies at the University of Kyoto in Japan have discovered that cats can mentally map their location based on their owner’s voice through a series of experiments where cats cold hear only their owner’s voice. When the voice changed location, the cats appeared confused. It’s perhaps unsurprising given how important tracking and location is to cats in the wild, and how domestic cats associate food and security with their owner. 

More new research by the charity Cats Protection has found that around a quarter of a million cats (approximately the human population of Southampton) are currently unowned and feral, living in the UK’s streets. Unowned cats can pose problems as their numbers can expand rapidly if not controlled. Numbers vary across the country but are highest in densely populated and deprived areas. 

Cats Protection helps feral communities by neutering and finding homes for friendly unowned cats, and by giving local residents the means to looks after feral colonies in the community: for example, by building cat shelters and providing the materials to do so.  

Numbers of feral cats have increased as people return to work after lockdown, and some, sadly, are abandoned. It is good to know that Cats Protection is doing what it can to help the UK’s huge feral cat population.  

And lastly, a new social media superstar has arrived in the shape of Midas, a Russian Blue kitten from Turkey who has a recessive genetic mutation that gives her two sets of ears. Her hearing is unaffected, and she has been adopted, having originally been a rescue cat. You can follow Midas on Instagram at midas_x24.

Midas is pictured below, on her Instagram page, and has over 100,000 followers.