Monday, February 8, 2016

Unmanaged Cat Colony Distribution in Auckland, New Zealand Over 20 Years

In New Zealand, feral cat populations have steadily increased with urbanization. The increasing cat populations have led to the development of feral cat colonies. While many of these colonies have people that exert some degree of ownership and thus act as caretakers, many others have no one managing them. This situation is damaging to both the cats and wildlife. These colonies often negatively impact wildlife populations through over-hunting, and due to no human intervention providing necessary veterinary care, these cats are often much less healthy than both cats in managed colonies and non-colony feral cats.

To examine what determines distribution of unmanaged colonies in Auckland, New Zealand, Glenn Aguilar and Mark Farnworth collected data from the Lonely Miaow Association Incorporated for the years 1991 through 2011. They determined the density of cat colonies in Auckland and compared this data to the human population density, land use, and the New Zealand Deprivation Index (NDZI).

The NDZI is calculated using, in decreasing weight, home ownership, employment status, age, qualifications (New Zealand term for the level of education), living space, access to communication, and access to a car.

Aguilar and Farnworth found that cat colony densities strongly correlate with both human population density and Settlement land use, and weakly correlated with NDZI. While they did not find causation, these correlations are important because they can help guide policy and management of these colonies, current and future.

Aguilar, G. D., & Farnworth, M. J. (2013). Distribution characteristics of unmanaged cat colonies over a 20 year period in Auckland, New Zealand.Applied Geography37, 160-167.

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.


  1. In Australia not too long ago there was an outrageous outbreak in mice that devastated agriculture production. I am curious if that outbreak could be tamed with these same methods. Maybe to find a correlation between a certain crop that attracted these mice?

    1. I have heard about that, too. From my understanding, the current agreement is that it resulted from the sheer number of crops available. Crop fields also often present an ideal place for habitation for mice. I would wonder if there are specific conditions in surrounding areas that are driving the mice there. Though both would be interesting studies.

  2. I wonder what has led to such an increase of feral cats? It is possible that the areas that have people taking care of them lead to an increase in the number of cats, but if the areas that don't have care takers are still growing there must be other factors that lead to this. It is also possible that certain areas attract the cats so they all congregate in that area