PET owners are being urged to record precisely what their cats drag in as part of a pioneering project to record the species of mammals spread across the north east of Scotland.
The bizarre survey has been launched to help in the creation of a Mammal Atlas for Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Cairngorms National Park.
Cat owners across the area are being asked to record the various animals their beloved felines bring in through the cat flap. And the survey organisers are even planning to host two “Look What the Cat Brought In” events to help moggy owners to identify the various mammals.which have fallen prey to their pets.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council explained: “The North East Scotland Biological Records Centre (NESBReC) is compiling the Mammal Atlas for 2015 but is appealing for help from local walkers, pet owners and animal lovers.
“Small mammals are particularly under recorded and taking a note of what the cat catches and takes home is a very useful way of compiling the data.”
She added: “A survey by the Mammal Society in 2001 found that the average household cat can catch up to 40 creatures a year. Mice tend to be the most popular mammal prey, followed by voles and shrews. Larger mammals, such as rabbits,weasels, stoats and squirrels were also recorded. Cats can roam up to over half a mile away each night and have a home range of 28 hectares (70 acres).
“Records of the animals that cats have caught could be the only way for NESBReC to get information on mammals in certain areas.”
Councillor Isobel Davidson, the chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee, said:”The Mammal Atlas is an important project for the north-east of Scotland and I am glad to see NESBReC coming up with interesting and engaging ways for people to get involved.
“It might be unpleasant when the cat brings an animal into the house, but now at least it can be a useful indicator of the mammals living in your area.”
Glenn Roberts, the NESBReC manager, said: “We really welcome everyone in the North east of Scotland to get involved in the creation of a Mammal Atlas. The most common species are often overlooked, and even if you have never looked at mammals before, it is easy to get involved in recording wildlife and photos are always welcomed.”
Pet owners are being asked to record what species their cat dragged in, and where and when they saw it.
The spokeswoman added: “Pictures can be sent to NESBReC even if you are not sure what the mammal is.”
NESBReC is a partnership between Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, the University of Aberdeen, the RSPB and Forestry Commission Scotland.