Marlee Pyott

MSc Student (2020-present)

I completed my B.Sc. in Zoology at Laurentian University in Sudbury Ontario, and in 2020 joined the Norris lab to pursue my MSc in Integrative Biology and One Health. For my MSc, I am studying owned outdoor cats (Felis catus).

Domestic cats are one of the most popular pets worldwide, providing companionship for millions of people. However, when it comes to cat care there is a flashpoint of controversy surrounding whether owners should provide their pets with unsupervised outdoor access. An outdoor lifestyle can be beneficial because cats can get more exercise and are able to engage in more natural behaviours. With that in mind, there are concerns about them being hit by vehicles, depredating native wildlife, and spreading pathogens to other cats, people, and wildlife. To determine the costs and benefits of providing unsupervised outdoor access, we need to understand the health consequences to cats, their owners, and the environment.

For this research, I have deployed lightweight animal-born cameras to the collars of owned cats to gain a cat’s eye view of their outdoor activities. Each collar is equipped with a GPS that allows us to examine where they spend most of their time and how far they travel. While I am excited to see what cats are doing, for the conservation of time, my research will focus on examining the GPS tracks collected from these collars!

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