Estimating the population of unowned free-ranging domestic cats in Denmark using a combination of questionnaires and GPS tracking.
The present study aimed (1) to estimate the size of the population of unowned free-ranging domestic cats in Denmark using a questionnaire survey combined with a GPS-tracking survey, and (2) to estimate the distribution of the population across different habitats. The questionnaires were circulated in 94 randomly selected parishes ranging across seven kinds of habitat. Using responses from five of the habitats, we estimated the population of unowned free-ranging cats nationally. In the other two habitats, questionnaire data were collected in a simpler way. The territory of 59 owned cats was estimated with GPS tracking to assess home ranges. Home range area was calculated using 95% Brownian bridge kernel density estimation (0.033-0.077 ± 0.011-0.023 km2, median ± SE). We estimated a population of unowned free-ranging cats in Denmark of 89,000 ± 11,000 (SE), with a mean density of 2 ± 0.3 (SE) cats per km2, living primarily in rural habitats. Approximately one-third of the cats were estimated to be socialised and two-thirds unsocialised. Our method may be suitable for use in other temperate areas facing problems with unowned free-ranging cats.