Caturday felid trifecta: Simon’s cat takes a field trip, Maru in mixing bowl, GPS-tracked cat perambulations

We have two new videos today. The first is our old friend Maru, whom we haven’t seen for a while. He seems to have plumped up a bit, but is still trying to fit into too-small containers. Here he’s having a Zen moment in a mixing bowl:


I haven’t been keeping up with Simon’s Cat, either, so this clip is a month old. We’ll catch up soon. In this video, “Field trip,” the cat fails miserably at being a predator:


Bored Panda has a short piece, with lots of photographs, about a survey that involved tracking cats using GPS devices affixed to their collars. The survey, carried out by the Central Tablelands LLS at Lithgow in central-west New South Wales, showed that some cats, to their owners’ surprise, go 3.5 km away from home. Were they looking for food? For mates? Who knows? Nor can I find the original survey.

These are some of the movements recorded, and it looks as if the photos involve more than one cat.

This one went far away into the woods:


Mostly close to home, with a few forays:


A local roamer:


A long trip:


It’s clear, though, where all these cats live:



h/t: Grania


  1. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I’m somewhat suspicious of the last two photos, with those large diagonal excursions across several blocks. Either the GPS sampling was very intermittent, or those cats got into cars at some point. Are we sure there were no trips to the vet during the survey period?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 11, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      The look on Maru’s fizzog expresses clear outrage at the thoughtlessness of putting down a bowl which doesn’t have a pouring lip.
      Simon’s cat doing a serviceable “Jaws” impersonation. Mighty hunter, all that. today he (?) seems to be answering to “Nimrod”.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 11, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      The probability of a cat – any pet – living within some miles of their (staff’s) chosen vet is pretty slender. The jumps displayed are of the order of hundreds of metres, not many kilometres which is more like the mean spacing between vets.
      My suspicion is intermittent sampling. Unless there’s a backpack-antenna on the cats, there are likely periods when the antenna doesn’t have sufficient sky visibility to get an adequate signal.
      The last time I tried doing a similar exercise with my phone (or tablet, I forget) GPS in the rucksack top-pocket for the day, I’d get very similar artefacts when it was raining (the water was sufficient to attenuate the signal), when we were under or near cliffs and steep slopes (you can’t see a GPS satellite through a hill), and in woodland (sky visibility and rain).
      Consumer GPS displays have a lot of averaging built in. If you look at the raw data stream, you see this sort of thing all the time.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 11, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        I notice the same if I use the GPS on my android phone. Initially it has me half a block away, then zooms in as more data refine the location.

        GPS seems to have improved quite a lot since the first time I used it, to try and find a buried sewer manhole. It insisted on locating me just beside a main road, while I knew (from the plans) that the sewer line was 100 yards the other side of the road.

        Does make me wonder if some of those excursions are artefacts.


        • gscott
          Posted June 11, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

          I’d guess that almost all of those excursions are artefacts. I have two Garmin GPS units that I use on my bicycle (although
          usually not at the same time). The newer model (Edge 500) is prone to this kind of excursion, especially when I’m in areas
          of thick trees. A couple of weeks ago, it went nuts on me while I was standing in a parking lot for a few minutes with a good
          view of the sky – the GPS track shows a quick trip to the other side of the valley 1km away, and then a quick trip back. And
          a few minutes later, while descending through the trees, it indicated that I was going 68mph/110kph.

          Consumer GPS is not as accurate as some people would like to believe it is, and I’d bet that cat-quality GPS is even worse.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          The high potential resolution of GPS does take time to achieve. When we’re going for metre-level accuracy at rig placement, we typically need several hundred satellite passes to get actual appropriate resolution – 3-5 hours @ $100,000/ hour.
          When you see (for example) Time Team doing a GPS-based survey running around a field, they’ve set up a DGPS base station at a known location (e.g. a bench mark, drain cover, whatever) near the site, and are computing the difference in position between that fixed point and the mobile receiver. (The logic being that the stationary receiver has the same time-of-flight delays due to ionospheric conductivity, etc as the mobile receiver.)
          I’ve used consumer grade GPS to position oilwell “drill here” stakes before – it was a quiet day killing our well for the 10th time – so I was given a driver and a list of locations. The desired end product was a list of sketch maps, site photos, and business addresses so we could plan access roads, who we needed to bribe, did we actually need to demolish anyone’s home to get to the site, that sort of thing. The actual digging of the cellar and positioning of the rig would be done from a later, more precise official survey.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I wonder if some of those longer forays weren’t car journeys. There don’t seem to be a lot data points on them, which makes me think that they happened relatively fast.

    • Posted June 11, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Maybe some of them, though the researchers would presumably check on that. But some of the long journeys aren’t on roads.

      • JohnnieCanuck
        Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        The data presented in the images shouldn’t be taken at face value. The long straight lines are typically caused by some discontinuity between only two data points, which could be better understood by looking at the time stamps.

        Car journeys, intermittent signal quality, erratic operation and travelling through sewers, all must be considered before drawing conclusions from noisy data sets like these.

        The first one is intriguing, because the long curved line must consist of multiple points and yet is improbably smooth for a cat travelling uphill and down through hilly woods and over roads.

        I question the validity of the survey, as presented to the media here. The results allowed the people involved to jump to conclusions they wanted to believe.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 11, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          The first one is intriguing, because the long curved line must consist of multiple points and yet is improbably smooth for a cat travelling uphill and down through hilly woods and over roads.

          Yes, that is perplexing.

  3. rom
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    The navigating skills of the cat in the first picture is pretty amazing.

    Suspiciously so.

  4. barn owl
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Maru is training for sumo.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    That is maybe a 2 cup mixing bowl, and Maru is about a gallon of kitty.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Srsly? They are looking for patterns in *cats*!?

  7. Susan Davies
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Some details of the study can be found here:

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Since this is in Australia, amongst the motivations behind this “monitoring and education programme” will be discouraging people from having cats, since feral cats are a significant problem for the native Australian fauna in many respects. And dogs. And rabbits. And cows. And humans.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:23 am | Permalink

        We should trap, neuter, and release feral humans!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          I’d put something in the water, so that conception cannot happen without veterinary intervention. Have to be done before the colts and fillies get fertile though.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 14, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

            Would it were that simple. 😀

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted June 14, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

              Would indeed that it were.

  8. Posted June 11, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    This has been done a couple of times on UK TV. Here is one from 2014:

    Findable online.

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