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 Geography, 37, 160-167.
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