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Free-ranging Cats: Behavior, Ecology, Management

ISBN: 978-1-118-88401-0
320 pages
September 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Free-ranging Cats: Behavior, Ecology, Management (1118884019) cover image

Description

Feral and stray domestic cats occupy many different habitats. They can resist dehydration for months by relying exclusively on the tissue water of their prey allowing them to colonize remote deserts and other inhospitable
places. They thrive and reproduce in humid equatorial rainforests and windswept subantarctic islands. In many areas of the world feral cats have driven some species of birds and mammals to extinction and others to the edge, becoming a huge conservation concern. With the control of feral and stray cats now a top conservation priority, biologists are intensifying efforts to understand cat behaviour, reproductive biology, use of space, intraspecies interaction, dietary requirements, prey preferences, and vulnerability to different management
strategies.

This book provides the most comprehensive review yet published on the behavior, ecology and management of free-ranging domestic cats, whether they be owned, stray, or feral. It reviews management methods and their progress, and questions several widely accepted views of free-ranging cats, notably that they live within dominance hierarchies and are highly social.

Insightful and objective, this book includes:

  • a functional approach, emphasizing sensory biology, reproductive physiology, nutrition, and space
    partitioning;
  • clear treatment of how free-ranging cats should be managed;
  • extensive critical interpretation of the world’s existing literature;
  • results of studies of cats in laboratories under controlled conditions, with data that can also be
    applied to pet cats.

Free-ranging Cats: Behavior, Ecology, Management is valuable to ecologists, conservation scientists, animal behaviorists, wildlife nutritionists, wildlife biologists, research and wildlife veterinarians, clinical veterinarians,  mammalogists, and park and game reserve planners and administrators.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Abbreviations and symbols xvii

About the companion website xix

1 Dominance 1

1.1 Introduction 1

1.2 Dominance defined 1

1.3 Dominance status and dominance hierarchies 6

1.4 Dominance–submissive behavior 10

1.5 Dominance in free-ranging cats 15

2 Space 19

2.1 Introduction 19

2.2 Space defined 20

2.3 Diel activity 23

2.4 Dispersal 26

2.5 Inbreeding avoidance 27

2.6 Home-range boundaries 31

2.7 Determinants of home-range size 33

2.8 Habitat selection 41

2.9 Scent-marking 43

3 Interaction 49

3.1 Introduction 49

3.2 The asocial domestic cat 49

3.3 Solitary or social? 52

3.4 Cooperative or not? 58

3.5 The kinship dilemma 61

3.6 What it takes to be social 66

4 Reproduction 72

4.1 Introduction 72

4.2 Female reproductive biology 72

4.3 Male reproductive biology 84

4.4 The cat mating system: promiscuity or polygyny? 88

4.5 Female mating behavior 91

4.6 Male mating behavior 93

4.7 Female choice 96

5 Development 98

5.1 Introduction 98

5.2 Intrauterine development 98

5.3 Dens 100

5.4 Parturition 100

5.5 Early maturation 104

5.6 Nursing 108

5.7 Weaning 109

5.8 Survival 111

5.9 Effect of early weaning and separation 113

5.10 Early predatory behavior 114

6 Emulative learning and play 116

6.1 Introduction 116

6.2 Emulative learning 116

6.3 Play 121

6.4 Ontogenesis of play 125

6.5 What is play? 130

7 Nutrition 137

7.1 Introduction 137

7.2 Proximate composition 138

7.3 Proteins 139

7.4 Fats 148

7.5 Carbohydrates 150

7.6 Fiber 155

7.7 Vitamins 156

8 Water balance and energy 158

8.1 Introduction 158

8.2 Water balance 158

8.3 Energy 162

8.4 Energy needs of free-ranging cats 166

8.5 Energy costs of pregnancy and lactation 172

8.6 Obesity 178

9 Foraging 181

9.1 Introduction 181

9.2 Cats as predators 182

9.3 Scavenging 185

9.4 When cats hunt 189

9.5 Food intake of feral cats 189

9.6 How cats detect prey 190

9.7 How cats hunt 200

9.8 What cats hunt 205

9.9 Prey selection 207

9.10 The motivation to hunt 210

10 Management 214

10.1 Introduction 214

10.2 Effect of free-ranging cats on wildlife 215

10.3 Trap–neuter–release (TNR) 224

10.4 Biological control 233

10.5 Poisoning and other eradication methods 237

10.6 Integrated control 241

10.7 Preparation for eradication programs 245

10.8 “Secondary” prey management 247

References 251

Index 293

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Author Information

Dr Stephen Spotte is a marine scientist and an adjunt scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, Florida). He is an author or co-author of more than 80 scientific papers and has written 18 books.

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Reviews

“In this context, a new book published by Wiley "Free-ranging cats. Behavior, ecology, management" (by Stephen Spotte) provides a comprehensive and objective insight on the key topics related to the management of feral cats, addressing some fundamental issues for a correct analysis of the problem, including a review of the available information on the species' behavioral, biological and ecological features.”  (Nature Conservation, 15 December 2014)

"The breadth and depth of the book, along with its well thought out points, make it a must have for anyone working on issues related to free-ranging cats. It is a well written and easy to follow book that can easily be referenced for specific topics." (The Journal of Wildlife Management 2015)

The breadth and depth of the book, along with its well
thought out points, make it a must have for anyone working
on issues related to free-ranging cats. It is a well written and
easy to follow book that can easily be referenced for specific
topics.
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