On the hunt for help

A MURDOCH university researcher is on the hunt for cats that regularly come home sporting a suspicious feather or two hanging from their lips.

Fiona Scarff and her team from the uni’s veterinary and life sciences unit are carrying out a study on how effective cat bibs can be in protecting wildlife from prowling cats.

Dr Scarff says waking up to entrails in the garden is often part and parcel of cat ownership, but many people feel it’s something they can’t control.

In response, the university developed the cat bib several years ago, and Dr Scarff now wants to test some new designs.

• Dr Fiona Scarff and her bibbed-up bud Sixpence.

Hunters

She said they were really after active hunters who were regularly returning home with presents of dead birds and animals.

Dr Scarff told the Herald she’d tried a bib on her own cat Sixpence, who’d not had any problems getting around. He just couldn’t sneak up on his prey as easily.

 “We think that the bibs provide a big block of colour that warns prey when they’re being stalked, or that they physically interfere with pouncing,” she said.

“My own cat, who is tiny, can run, jump and climb backyard trees without any seeming difficulty in the bib – but it’s about giving prey and extra fraction of a second to escape.”

It was initially thought that cats wearing bibs might be too embarrassed to wander, but previous trials showed that they paraded their unusual fashion accessories as widely as ever.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study can contact Dr Scarff and her team on catbibstudy@gmail.com.

It follows a move by Fremantle councillor Adin Lang to introduce fines for cat owners whose moggies stray into designated bush area. Cr Lang told the Herald that despite initial concerns about a backlash, he’d got nothing but support for his plan.

by STEVE GRANT

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