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Horizon recently revealed the secret life of cats.
50 cats in a Surrey village were tracked for a week.
Have you seen this one? It's quite exciting.
The experiment cast new light on how they hunt, how they fight,
and how they live together.
This film will focus on the surprising stories
of four of the cats.
Orlando, the hunter.
It's bunny season. He will go on a bunny-killing spree.
Obi, the runaway.
I think cats do choose their owners, yes.
Hermes, the top cat.
Ha! He's everywhere!
And a fourth cat with no name.
The cat that no-one seems to know.
That's not Toby.
One village, one week, four cats.
Their diaries help us understand
the relationship we have with our cats...
and shed light on what your cat really thinks about you.
Tobes... He's purring.
For one week this spring, Horizon transformed
the village of Shamley Green into a giant laboratory.
A unique experiment was carried out with the Royal Veterinary College,
in which 50 cats were fitted with GPS collars
to track their every move.
That's nice. Excellent.
And some were given cameras that would record
their cat's-eye view of the world.
The first of our cats is Orlando.
He may look like any old pampered pussycat,
but over the course of the week,
we discovered where his real talents lie.
Orlando is a very keen hunter.
He much prefers wild food to cat food.
It's bunny season. He will go on a bunny-killing spree.
Every other day he fills up on bunnies.
That keeps him going for a while.
And it isn't just rabbits that Orlando's partial to.
He'll happily eat almost anything he can catch.
We actually have trained the cats to keep away from the bird feeder.
When we first moved to our house three years ago,
they just literally picked them off the bird feeder
like sweeties, day after day.
As cousins of tigers, leopards and other large hunting cats,
it isn't surprising that some of our pet cats
barely need us to feed them.
As part of the experiment, cat owners in the village
have kept some of the prey that their pets brought home.
He walked in very nonchalantly, looking very satisfied.
So I went out and had a look in his feeding place,
and found... All that was left was one eyeball.
With four rabbits brought in during the week,
Orlando seems to be the village's most successful hunter.
-This is just Orlando.
-His owner, Emily, has come to the village hall.
It's been temporarily taken over by scientists who are analysing
the information streaming in from the GPS traces and cat-cams.
-So, he's been down to your neighbour's.
And he kind of hangs around here, round the back of her house.
I don't know what there is there, we haven't looked.
-That's their house there.
-I think there's a lot of rabbits down there,
from when I've been to their house.
It is a bit like having the takeaway two doors down.
-He certainly brought a lot back.
-Oh, he eats them.
-He doesn't eat cat food, basically.
-He's a big hunter.
So he's our champion, as you might have imagined.
He loves, he just loves rabbits.
There was one day just before you came, he caught three in one day.
He ate the first one, the third one, and the second one was a present.
Orlando's cat-cam footage suggests his favourite meal
doesn't always agree with him.
This is our YouTube moment.
Brace yourselves for this bit.
-Urgh! He's being sick!
-On our neighbours' garden!
What happens to cats when they eat rabbit guts,
doesn't always agree with them.
Cats are the most common carnivores in Britain.
They bring home tens of millions of prey animals every year.
Though some cats survive exclusively on pet food,
many hunt all sorts of mammals, amphibians,
reptiles, birds and fish.
As the experiment continues, something unexpected has turned up.
A friend in Sweetwater Close has seen him.
I say he, he looks like a boy cat. Looks like a very tough cat.
About a month ago, I reckon, we had a cat visiting the house.
You get up every morning, you can smell that a cat had sprayed.
So we knew we'd had somebody in.
There's a big fluffy black and white cat
that I've seen on a few occasions,
comes in through the cat flap, has a big fight with our cats.
We started blocking up the cat flap.
It just pushed everything out of the way and came in.
We seem to have quite a lot of trouble with spraying
and other unpleasant things. So our cat's not terribly pleased about it.
The question is, whose cat is this?
Or is it a stray?
If this is one of Britain's 2 million strays,
it could be bringing all manner of problems to Shamley Green.
Oh, come on, you're not frightened of me.
The team are visiting Paulina and her cat Toby
to try and find out more about the mystery cat.
-Hi, Alex, how are you?
-I'm all right, how are you?
-Good. I heard you had an intruder last night?
I'd like to find out what it was.
scrabble, scrabble, scrabble.
Cat rushed out of the sitting room, out through the cat door.
Toby went after him but didn't go through the cat door.
-It all happened so quickly, I didn't really get a chance...
We'll rig this up in the living room and see
if we might be able to see what he was doing.
Alex is setting up a series of cameras
to try to get a glimpse of the cat.
The camera works with a trigger mechanism, so as soon as anything
passes in front of it, it activates and it records for 60 seconds.
-So we'll place it down on the floor.
And then see what kind of behaviour we might be able to catch.
-Yeah, that's fine.
The next day, Paulina has come to meet Dr Sarah Ellis
to see if there is any news.
OK, Paulina. So we think we've spotted an intruder in your house.
-So the footage we've got is inside your house.
-Oh, right. Wow!
At 3am, the camera is activated.
-And there's our culprit.
-That's not Toby!
-When was this, last night?
It looks to me, they're a black and white cat, definitely long hair.
-I don't recognise it.
-It's got quite distinctive facial markings.
-It has, very.
Well, that's definitely not Obi next door.
-And it's definitely not Esme, is it?
But the mystery cat is doing more than just turning up unannounced.
There have been reports of fights with other cats in the village.
To try to restore peace, the team have called in a pet detective.
His mission is to find out who the mystery cat belongs to
or if it's a stray.
If the intruder cat is definitely a stray,
there is a possibility
it might be carrying a disease of some sort, and that concerns us.
Because if it's fighting with other male cats in the village
and mating with the female cats,
those diseases could be passed on relatively quickly.
So we need to establish a little bit more information about it,
and the impact it's having on the other cats in the village.
-Hello! I've come to speak to you about this cat.
What I'd like to do now is to get more detail from you.
You'll be surprised how much you know.
-Your cat flap, is it open at all times?
-Whereabouts in the house was this cat?
-In my sitting room.
And do you think it was your return to your house
-which caused this cat to flee?
-Have you been putting more food down than normal?
-Did you see which direction it went into?
Finding out where the cat is coming from and where it's going to
is essential to finding out whether or not it's a stray.
Initially, I'd like to put a small field camera into your garden.
To me, what I want to establish is,
are you at the end of the route, halfway along its route,
is it going through a pattern of behaviour every evening?
Or are you getting a visit simply because
Toby's out of the way and there's food in the house?
As with all detective work, the key is information.
Colin is putting up posters of the intruder cat
to try and find out if anyone owns it.
As evening draws in, he sets up some motion-activated cameras
in and around the Thompsons' house where the cat has also been spotted.
We're just going to lay these out on the floor overnight,
with a view to seeing what footage we get of this cat.
Where the cat comes from is still a mystery.
The GPS and cat-cams are giving the cat owners of Shamley Green
a fresh insight into what their pets do
once they pass through their cat flap and leave their homes behind.
That's certainly true in the case of Hermes.
Hermes is a real character.
He definitely has staff, rather than family.
He expects us to wait on him hand and foot.
Alison has been on Hermes' staff for the past four years.
But until now she's never had a complete picture of her cat's life.
He keeps the dogs in line, keeps the children in line as well.
But other than that, we don't know an awful lot.
It seems he's hardly ever in, and when he's in, he's very cuddly.
Then he turns around, eats and goes back out again.
Hermes is very protective of his garden in terms of territory.
I've seen him getting quite angry with cats
at the bottom of our garden, trying to keep them at bay.
I don't know how far beyond that it goes.
I'd be fascinated to see what he gets up to,
whether he just pops three doors up and sits on somebody's lap
and gets pampered, or whether he goes out and about and roams around.
Predicting Hermes' behaviour is particularly difficult
because he is not actually a HE at all.
Hermes is quite an interesting cat
because Hermes is actually a hermaphrodite.
Neither male nor female, has organs of both.
We can't make any predictions based on gender
what that ranging behaviour would be.
But what we seem to see is Hermes doing laps.
These routine patrols. A big patrol loop.
GPS data and Hermes' cat-cam show that his protective instincts
extend way beyond his back garden.
Hermie ranged further than any other cat this week.
And I can see he's going to a lot of back gardens,
he's crossing different roads. Generally getting around.
About six hectares, or 15 acres, what he's ranging over.
And he's really going a long way every night,
covering a great deal of distance.
When he's roaming in around these streets and in and out
of the gardens and so on, he's presumably looking for other cats.
Checking out the neighbourhood in general.
Some areas he seems to go to, like here, he's going to quite regularly.
Almost on a daily basis.
But other areas, perhaps he only checks out once every few days,
just to see whether the local cat activity has changed or not.
It's time for Hermes' owners to find out what he's really been up to.
-That's definitely active.
He's everywhere! Oh, my word.
-So as you can see, he's covering quite a lot of ground.
-He is, yeah.
In fact if you're adding all that together,
-he is our roamer of the week.
He's gone further than any other cat,
and that includes the cats that we've been following
right out in the outlying areas, which you would think have
-plenty of space to roam around in, they'd be all over the place.
In fact, most of those have stuck close to home
and Hermes has taken the prize.
It surprises me. There's a lot of cats in our street,
you'd have thought there'd be a reasonable amount
of territory battle.
Yeah, he doesn't seem to be restricted at all
by that kind of thing.
There are other cats moving around in these areas,
pretty much at the same time he is. He just doesn't seem to be bothered.
So he's a very confident cat.
As roamer of the week,
the result suggests it's Hermes who's in charge.
He doesn't seem to be affected by anybody else's territory,
so yeah, he's...pretty cool, really, apparently! Which is always nice.
This is like going to parents' evening for your children.
But for your cat.
He's obviously a little dude enjoying himself,
-which is nice.
-Hermes, top cat!
The team have found the village's top hunter and top roamer.
But there's still one cat that's proving elusive.
A few days ago, motion-sensitive cameras were placed in and around
the Thompsons' house to look for signs of the intruder cat.
They've got some results.
They've had an intruder.
And we're really interested to see if that intruder is the same intruder
that's been in Paulina and Toby's house.
So he's definitely long-haired, as was the intruder to Paulina's house.
And it's definitely the same cat. Without a doubt.
He's got quite a distinct marking on his back inside leg,
he's got a white flash, you can just see it there.
Oh, and he's going to spray.
He's just urine sprayed at the exit to the house.
This is suggestive that he may be trying to claim this area as his own.
Cats tend to mark at the entry/exit points,
at the boundary of what they consider their own territory.
That's really interesting,
this could be a bit of a territorial dispute.
Most cats that spray are un-neutered tomcats.
As over 80% of pet cats are neutered,
the intruder here is very likely to be a stray.
Not something that the Thompsons would welcome.
The Thompsons have two cats, Harry and Midge. So this is Midge.
She's definitely smelling some of that area.
And she's off out.
But it may be related to the fact that she's had
an intruder in her home who's scent-marking her home,
and that can cause tension for cats within their own home.
A visit to the Thompson family uncovers some worrying news.
Midge hasn't returned.
How long has Midgy been missing?
So, last seen Saturday evening. So it's now Monday evening.
So 48 hours.
Tell me about this visitor that you've been having, this other cat?
-When do you think he first turned up?
-Five, six weeks ago.
-OK. And what does it look like?
-Big, fluffy, black and white.
Mum says that it really smells.
Where we start now is by putting in field cameras,
so we can literally map its route into the garden, where it goes.
And then the final stage is, we'll introduce a cat trap,
which is a humane cage. We put food into the cage,
and we encourage the cat to go into the cage.
We have a facility within our office to watch that video footage.
We will know when the cat's gone in.
-And we might give you a quick call and, say, just check.
Midge appears to have been rattled by the intruder.
The question is whether or not his family will be enough
to lure him home.
From the look of Obi's relationship with Nina, you might think
they've been together ever since he was a newborn kitten,
over 10 years ago.
Actually, he's a runaway.
I first noticed Obi eating bird food in our garden.
This was about three years ago.
And I started feeding him, I probably shouldn't have.
But I felt quite sorry for him, because he appeared to be hungry.
And then he just kept coming back.
And I thought he was a stray, but then I realised he had a collar on.
I then discovered that he came from across the road.
After 10 years of living across the road,
Obi had started to become less comfortable.
As he got older, he wasn't a big fan of the children.
And there were four kids running around.
And then obviously we got Amber,
and that was the last straw, I think, for him.
He came in the gate one day, saw the dog and the dog saw him,
and they sort of looked at each other
and the dog went to go for him and he just legged it,
and that was about it. There was nothing I could really do about it.
I had to just let him go.
Some days, he literally is here on that bed all day long.
Life of Riley, isn't it?
I think cats do choose their owners, yes, I do.
We have a very quiet household.
Just my partner and myself, whereas Laura's was very noisy.
So, on reflection, maybe that's why he came and stayed.
Obi's GPS data from the previous night suggest that
since he moved, he's never looked back.
So, this is Obi, who has moved to this house quite recently
from another house of his own accord.
I think it was around this area here,
-so he is almost avoiding that area completely.
It's interesting that he's not going back to where
he lived at all, there's no attempts to go back in that area,
because he's not moved far, has he?
It is rather unusual, but if cats find themselves in a household where
there is stuff that they can't deal with, they do move spontaneously.
It's quite common.
I was really upset. Really, really upset.
I was also angry at him for a little bit as well,
because I thought, that's ten years and he was a part of the family,
he was like one of my children.
And seeing him now, I look out the kitchen window and I see him
over the road, following her around, it is a bit upsetting.
But, you know, they're happy together, so I'm glad he's happy.
Now, Obi has a new home and a new owner...
...but is it for life?
I think he's attached to me and to my partner as well.
It all may be cupboard love. I don't know!
But, yes, we do love him.
There's no doubt how we feel about our cats,
but how attached are our cats to us?
..probably quite attached as long as I feed him.
It's more than that. They come because they want company,
they want to have that interaction, they want to be stroked,
they want to be spoken to.
He'll come up to me and like, nuzzle against me
like he wants to be stroked.
-He doesn't really do that with Joel.
-No, or Dad.
Every cat owner wonders just how much their cat loves them back.
Professor Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln
is studying how attached cats are to their owners.
We were interested in how do you actually characterise
the relationship between a cat and the owner?
Owners invest a lot emotionally in the cat relationship.
It doesn't mean the cat's investing
in the same sort of emotional relationship.
So our research was really aimed at trying to look to see
whether or not cats are making that emotional commitment.
This is the strange situation room. There's your chair.
Here are the toys. You can set the baby...
Daniel's team adapted a famous psychology experiment
from the 1970s
that was originally devised to study the attachment
between parent and child.
'With mother as a secure base, a child has confidence to go
'exploring into the furthest corner of the room.'
-Time for stranger.
A stranger is introduced into the room.
'The child doesn't know how to take the stranger.
'He's going to mother.'
In the next part of the experiment, the mother leaves
when the child is not looking.
The revelation of the experiment was the reunion.
'The child shows nothing but a dramatic desire to get
'to mother as quickly as possible and cling.'
Psychologists concluded that this pattern of behaviour meant
the child has a strong attachment to its parent.
Daniel's team have reproduced the experiment with dogs.
While the dog is distracted, the owner leaves.
This labrador cannot bear to part from his owner.
Now comes the reunion.
It's just as enthusiastic as the one between the child and his mother.
In the case of dogs and in the case of children,
the attachment actually means they see the individual as a source
of comfort, something that provides joy and also a source of safety.
Daniel and his team then tried out the experiment with cats.
They're about to find out how attached this cat is to her owner.
So, the cat's been let out of the basket and the owner
and the stranger are being asked just to ignore the cat.
If the cat has this secure attachment in the same way as children
and dogs do, then actually the cat would tend to use
the owner as a point of reference to explore the environment,
so they might go out and away from them, but keep coming back.
In this case, the cat is interacting a lot with the stranger.
It suggests the cat is not actually using the owner
as the point of reference. It's making its own decisions.
The owner leaves when the cat is distracted.
But what will happen when the owner returns?
The cat is unmoved.
What our research shows
so far is that the relationship between a cat and an owner is not
what would be described
as a secure attachment-style relationship.
Certainly owners believe that their cats are very affectionate
towards them, but we are starting to think the cat views the owner
more as the provider of resources than of safety,
which is the key feature of a secure attachment.
Daniel and his team have studied 20 cats.
Though they haven't yet completed their analysis, the evidence
suggests that cats may not need us as much as we'd like to believe.
Clearly, cat owners love cats.
It's difficult to say whether or not cats love back!
Back in Shamley Green, Colin has concluded his investigation
-into the intruder cat.
-We're done here.
He's visiting Paulina to share his results.
We've got lots of information
and we are certain that he doesn't have an owner.
And what we believe is, he is coming in here three or four times
a day and sometimes he stays here, maybe three or four hours at a time.
Good God! Have you seen any interaction with him and Toby,
-We've got footage of the two cats together
and they seem to be acknowledging each other, so it's almost as if
he's going off looking for trouble elsewhere and then he comes back.
-What we would normally do now is trap him,
get him to a vet's and get him checked over.
He will be neutered, so the best thing for him would be
to be re-released, little bit less aggressive,
healthy and leading a normal life, but obviously nobody would own him.
Just supposing I said that I might try to adopt him,
how would we do that?
Erm, really all that would happen there is,
instead of releasing him outside,
I would recommend that you keep him indoors for a couple of weeks, so he
gets used to this as his home and then give him a run of the garden.
I think you'll find that you will have...
Suddenly, he'll be here all the time.
Yes, I should think he is anyway, but you don't know about it!
-He's already adopted you.
You're just making the decision after him!
It isn't only Toby and Paulina
that have made their peace with the newcomer.
Midge has also returned.
It's clear that people love cats.
But what the diaries of our four cats in Shamley Green suggest
is that though we may think they need us,
it's the cats who are really in charge!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd