We used radio-telemetry and collar-mounted activity sensors to compare home range size, habitat use, and activity patterns of owned and unowned free-roaming cats on the outskirts of Champaign Urbana, Illinois, USA. Owned cats (3 M, 8 F) had smaller home ranges than unowned cats (6 M, 10 F), but we failed to detect consistent differences in home range size between the sexes or among seasons. Home ranges of unowned cats included more grassland and urban area than predicted based on availability in all seasons, and farmsteads were selected in fall and winter. Within home ranges, unowned cats shifted their use of habitats among seasons in ways that likely reflected prey availability, predation risk, and environmental stress, whereas habitat use within home ranges by owned cats did not differ from random. Unowned cats were more nocturnal and showed higher overall levels of activity than owned cats. Space use and behavioral differences between owned and unowned cats supported the hypothesis that the care a cat owner provides influences the impact a cat has on its environment, information that is important for making decisions on controlling cat populations.
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