Determining daytime resting site habitats of exurban feral cats.
Predicting daytime resting sites (DRS) in feral cat (Felis catus) populations provides a means for further understanding what habitat characteristics are used by the species, which in turn may help in managing their populations. Between May - August 2013, we identified 319 summer DRSs used by 24 radiocollared feral cats in Russellville, Arkansas. Our goal was to characterize summer DRS use by feral cats via microhabitat and macrohabitat analysis in an exurban city. We identified DRSs by homing in on individuals between 1000 and 1600 h and sampled the habitat of one DRS for each cat weekly. We developed 13 a priori models focused on six micro- and macrohabitat variables that explained 97% of the data variability. Most cats used DRSs in thick vegetation or under anthropogenic structures, but we also observed cats inside anthropogenic structures, underground openings, and in open areas with no protective cover. Most DRSs were located within the open-low intensity developed land cover type. Two competing models that included 82% of the model weights indicated that DRS locations with relatively cooler temperatures, high overhead cover, and high ground-level visual obscurity were used frequently by cats. We also observed seven occasions of DRS sharing which were all within 165 m to known artificial food sources. Given the variety of habitats used by feral cats in this study, it would be difficult to predict specific daytime trapping locations with no established colony associated with a subsidized feeding area.