Marion Cordonnier

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The domestic cat, Felis catus, is one of the most popular and widespread domestic animals. Because domestic cats can reach high population densities and retain at least some tendency to hunt, their overall impact on wildlife can be severe. Domestic cats have highly variable predation rates depending on the availability of prey in their environment, their owners' practices, and individual cat characteristics. Among these characteristics, cat personality has recently been hypothesized to be an important factor contributing to variations in the hunting activity of cats. In this study, we used surveys of 2,508 cat owners living in France to collect information about cat personalities using the Feline Five personality model and about the frequency with which the cats bring home prey. For both birds and rodents, cats with high levels of extraversion or low levels of neuroticism had significantly higher frequencies of prey return. Owners whose cats had low levels of agreeableness or high levels dominance reported a significantly lower frequency of bird return. Personality differences therefore seem to contribute to the high variability in predation rates between domestic cats. We also found that the owner-reported prey return frequencies were significantly higher for cats spending more time outdoors, for non-pedigree cats, and for owners living in rural or suburban areas as opposed to urban areas. By contrast, we did not detect an effect of cat sex or age on their reported prey return rates.