A BBC Horizon scientific team is working in Shamley Green this week filming and researching for a Horizon special entitled ‘The secret life of cats’. During February Horizon’s project leaders met with villagers and recruited a number of their cats for the programme, Shamley Green apparently being the perfect location for observing cat behaviour.
Horizon has teamed up with the Royal Veterinary College, as well as Lincoln and Bristol Universities, to try and understand what cats get up to when they disappear through the cat flap. Using GPS trackers on the collars of around 40 cats in Shamley Green, they hope to understand how far the cats roam, how they interact with other cats, what effect they might be having on wildlife, whether they timeshare their territory and whether they are spending time in other people’s homes.
The study started on Saturday 13th April and continues until Friday 19th, with a team based in the village responding to the data as it comes in. The GPS trackers are light (15g) and are attached to a ‘breakaway’ safety collar. Animal behaviourists and welfare specialists are on hand throughout to ensure that the collars are safe and comfortable for the cats to wear. At any sign of strain or struggle from the cat, the collars pop off allowing the cat to run free.
According to Horizon’s Alex Raken, once the team have started to figure out what the cats are getting up to, they may mount some micro-cameras onto a selection of cats to see what they are doing.
The Shamley Green experiment will make up about half of the 60 minute long Horizon documentary, the other half will feature the latest scientific research about cats and pet ownership. So if you have ever wondered how similar your cat is to a Bengal tiger? Or how your cat might be subtly changing your personality? Horizon has the answers. The programme is expected to be broadcast later this year.
UPDATE: The Secret Life of Cats will be broadcast on BBC2 and BBC2HD on Thursday 13th June at 9pm. BBC2 trailer below.