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For the new study, Mateus and colleagues put special collars on 18 owned cats and 24 unowned cats, all living in Champaign-Urbana. All of the collars were equipped with radio transmitters. More than half of the collars also held activity sensors, which measured tilt and vibration as indicators of how active cats were at any given time.
After following the cats for 16 months, the researchers documented a dramatic difference in how much the two groups moved -- both in distance covered and number of minutes spent being frisky.
While house cats wandered over a range of just under two hectares (4.9 acres), the researchers reported in the Journal of Wildlife Management, feral cats covered an average of 157 hectares (388 acres). One wild cat covered close to 550 hectares (1,359 acres). The feral cats also entered a larger number of landscapes, from farms and grasslands to forests and urban areas.
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