Home range and habitat use of feral cats in an urban mosaic in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Feral cats (Felis catus) are one of the world's worst invasive species with continuing expanding populations, particularly in urban areas. Effects of anthropogenic changing land-use, especially urbanisation, can alter distribution and behaviour of feral cats. Additionally, resource availability can influence home range and habitat use. Therefore, we investigated home range and habitat use of feral cats (n=11) in an urban mosaic with varying degrees of urbanisation and green spaces in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Using global positioning cellular trackers, individual feral cats were followed for a minimum of six months. Minimum convex polygons (MCP) and kernel density estimates (KDE) were used to determine their home range, core area size, and habitat use. Mean home range (± SE) for feral cats was relatively small (95% MCP 6.2±4.52 ha) with no significant difference between male and female home ranges, nor core areas. There was individual variation in home ranges despite supplemental feeding in the urban mosaic. Generally supplemental resources were the primary driver of feral cat home ranges where these feeding sites were within the core areas of individuals. However, the ecological consequences of feeding feral cats can increase their survival, and reduce their home ranges and movement as found in other studies.