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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Annual variation in prey composition of domestic cats in rural and urban environment

Krauze-Gryz, Dagny; Zmihorski, Michal; Gryz, Jakub


The threat that domestic cats pose to wildlife has gained increased recognition by researchers and conservationists, and in this study, we investigated the seasonal variability and the effects of environment type (rural vs. urban) on the prey composition of free-ranging house cats in Poland. We analysed the variability in 307 monthly prey samples of different prey items killed by cats and brought to their owners (i.e., prey brought home by cats living in one home in one month) between 2002 and 2007 at 26 rural and urban sites. The variability in prey composition over time was analysed using additive models and canonical correspondence analysis. In total, we recorded 1348 prey items. Rodents were the most common prey in both environments, but shrews and reptiles were killed by cats more often in the rural environment while birds (mainly sparrows and pigeons) were more common in the urban environment. Additionally, prey composition changed seasonally. The pooled number of vertebrates killed by cats was largest in September and lowest in January, and rodents were killed most often in September, shrews and birds in June, and reptiles in April. The seasonal variation in the prey composition of cats was relatively high in the rural environment and more stable in the urban environment. Prey composition seemed to follow temporal and spatial variations in prey availability, thus confirming a facultative feeding strategy in free-ranging house cats.


Felis catus; Central Poland; Prey brought home; Season; Vertebrates; Rural to urban

Published in

Urban Ecosystems
2017, Volume: 20, number: 4, pages: 945-952

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