New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2022) 46(2): 3476

Factors affecting home range size of feral cats: a meta-analysis

Research Article
Catherine M. Nottingham 1
Hannah L. Buckley 2
Bradley S. Case 2
Alistair S. Glen 3
Margaret C. Stanley 1*
  1. Centre for Biodiversity and Biosecurity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  2. School of Science, Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  3. Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Managing invasive species requires knowledge of their ecology, including distribution, habitat use, and home range. In particular, understanding how biotic and abiotic factors influence home range can help with pest management decision-making, as well as informing native species management. Feral cats, self-sustaining cat populations that live independently of people, have caused numerous extinctions and continue to adversely affect native species globally. Managing feral cat populations requires spatially explicit knowledge to enable strategic deployment of management or monitoring devices, understand where native species are most likely to be at risk, and to mitigate the spread of cat-vectored diseases such as toxoplasmosis. Here, we present a meta-analysis of factors that influence feral cat home range size including land use types, differing levels of land use heterogeneity, and numbers of competitors. Male feral cats had larger home ranges than females, but effects of season, competitors, habitat heterogeneity, or land use on feral cat home range were not statistically significant, possibly due to high variability (male cat home range: 22.1 to 3232 ha; female cat home range: 9.6 to 2078 ha). This may reflect the fact that cats are generalists and are able to exploit any opportunity. Thus, we recommend that these factors and others, such as prey availability and composition, should be included in future research, so that the variability in home range size can be better understood. Improved understanding is vital for improving feral cat management in ecosystems where cats have been introduced.