OBJECTIVE To evaluate 2 methods of surveying free-roaming cats (Felis catus) and identify factors potentially associated with the presence of such cats in a mixed-urban environment.
ANIMALS Free-roaming cats on and near The Ohio State University campus.
PROCEDURES The university campus and surrounding areas were divided into zones classified by land-use category; 100 zones were selected for surveillance of free-roaming cats by the line-transect method (with visual observation). Twenty-three of the 100 zones were selected for surveillance by the trail-camera method (motion-triggered still photography). Food resources in the study site were mapped, and the presence of other animal species was recorded with trail cameras. Potential associations between the number of cat sightings and variables of interest were assessed by statistical methods,
RESULTS There were 6 cat sightings in 5 zones and 92 cat sightings in 9 zones with the line-transect and trail-camera methods, respectively. Cats were most frequently detected off campus and in urban land-use zones. The number of cat sightings with trail cameras was significantly correlated with the density of food resources but not wildlife sightings in the area and was significantly greater at night than during the day.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The number of sightings with the trail-camera method was substantially higher than that obtained with the line-transect method; however, identification of individual cats was generally not possible, and population size could not be estimated with these methods. Communities considering population control for free-roaming cats should consider the use of trail cameras to identify areas with high free-roaming cat activity and observation at night to gather baseline data. Easily accessible food waste may attract free-roaming cats.