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Vet School academic to feature on BBC Two’s Horizon

Press release issued: 12 June 2013

Dr John Bradshaw, Visiting Fellow and Honorary Director of the Anthrozoology Institute in the University’s School of Veterinary Sciences, will feature on BBC Two's Horizon 'The secret life of the cat' tomorrow [Thursday 13 June].

As part of one of the largest ever research projects into domestic cat behaviour, a team from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) - supported by BBC Two Horizon and the Universities of Bristol and Lincoln - tracked dozens of pet cats over several 24-hour periods using specially-designed collar GPS devices and tiny “cat cams”.

There are over ten million pet cats in the UK, but what they really get up to when they leave the home has been something of a mystery.

Dr John Bradshaw, who advised the BBC Horizon team throughout the making of the programme and its follow-up Little cat diaries, said:  “The technology developed by the RVC for the programme has provided a unique insight into how pet cats interact with one another in their natural habitat - our homes and gardens - to an extent never achieved before. 

“Contrary to our expectations, the cats whose roaming we recorded spent very little time hunting.  Their chief preoccupation seemed to be the whereabouts of their feline neighbours.”

Fifty cats in the Surrey village of Shamley Green were put under 24-hour surveillance using GPS collars and specially designed cat cams providing a moggie-eyes view of the world.

In many ways, scientists know more about the roaming behaviour of big cats in Africa than they do about of our own pets. So, using miniaturised lion GPS collars, scientists were able to track the cats’ secret journeys day and night, to find out exactly where they go and what they get up to.

As well as the satellite view the specially adapted cat-cams, strapped beneath their chins, gave a unique view from the animal’s perspective.

The experiment sheds new light on how cats hunt; what happens when cats square up in gardens; and how they establish and defend their invisible territories in backyards.

Horizon – The secret life of the cat will be broadcast on BBC Two on Thursday 13 June at 9 pm.

Horizon - Little cat diaries will be broadcast on BBC Two on Friday 14 June at 10 pm.

A trailer for the programme is available to watch on YouTube.


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