• The use of animal-borne cameras to video-track the behaviour of domestic cats.

      Huck, Maren; Watson, Samantha; University of Derby; Manchester Metropolitan University (Elsevier, 2019-05-07)
      Free roaming domestic animals can have a profound effect on wildlife. To better understand and mitigate any impact, it is important to understand the behaviour patterns of the domestic animals, and how other variables might influence their behaviour. Direct observation is not always feasible and bears the potential risk of observer effects. The use of animal-borne small videocameras provides the opportunity to study behaviour from the animal’s point of view. While video-tracking has been used previously to study specific aspects of the behaviour of a species, it has not been used so far to determine detailed time-budgets. The aim of this study was to provide and validate an ethogram based on cat-camera footage collected from 16 cats (Felis catus). The methodology was validated comparing films recorded simultaneously, from both collar-mounted video recorders and hand-held video recorders. Additionally, the inter-observer reliability of scorers was measured. Continuous and instantaneous recording regimes were compared, and behavioural accumulation curves were evaluated to provide further technique recommendations for video-tracking cats. Video-tracking allows scoring of behaviour as reliably as direct observation (linear mixed effects model: t<0.001, P = 0.99; df= 14 in 7 cats; Cohen's κ =0.88). Furthermore, interobserver reliability was high (Cohen's κ = 0.72) and was not significantly different from 0.8 (one-sample t-test: t=1.15. df=5, P = 0.30), indicating that the method is not subject to bias in observers. Recommendations are given for the most efficient scoring protocol to reliably record feline behaviour. While the validation was concerned with cat behaviour, the approach can be easily adapted for a variety of domestic species, as well as some captive animals. Video-tracking offers a new avenue to investigate both general time-budgets and more specific behaviours such as foraging or space use from the animal's point of view and in its normal environment, without restrictions to movement. Insights gained through video-tracking will be relevant to various conservation and animal welfare issues.