Curious about what her cat Treacle was doing when she brought home a bird bigger than herself, Dr. Maren Huck, an ecologist at the University of Derby, decided to strap tiny little cameras onto 16 neighborhood cats (the number started at 21, but five cats subjects would not tolerate the cameras) and followed them around for four years. While the study was officially created to test the accuracy of the technology, Huck and animal behaviorist Samantha Watson found out some very interesting things about how cats act outside the presence of humans, particularly about their sociability and activity levels.
Cats are seen as relatively lazy, especially compared to dogs. But we saw that when they were outside, they became superalert. They scanned their surroundings, sometimes for a half-hour or more on end. And even though cats are highly territorial, they didn’t always fight with other cats they encountered. Often, they just sat a couple of meters away from each other for up to a half an hour. They may have been sizing each other up. Sometimes they would engage in a greeting, briefly touching noses.