Wednesday, May 16, 2012

YES, BUT WHERE DOES MC SKAT KAT GO AT NIGHT?  We always like to highlight when members of our community make the national news without the words "allegedly" or "refused to comment" appended to their names, so kudos to our Ms. Amy Watts. She signed up for a local news piece on a research project in which her cats participated, and the next thing you know studly anchor Brian Williams is introducing a piece for NBC Nightly News on what happens when you strap a camera to an outdoor housecat.

Would you like to know more? (Yes.) Here's the 2012 kill sheet for Amy's Booker T., and more UGa kittycam footage can be found here.


  1. A cast of characters:
    Otis - Black cat with red collar (Otis REDding)
    Booker T - Black cat with green collar (GREEN onions) (he's the one in storm sewer footage)
    Archie - Fluffy

    All three participated in the study, but only Archie and BT's data counted - they captured the most hours on camera and the study didn't want to have 3 cats from a single household for fear of skewing data.

    Archie's "second family" lets him in and out their back door. I don't know who they are and don't recognize the house. I saw footage of him eating out of their cat's dish and eating out of a casserole dish on the counter. In one segment of the footage, he was up on a high shelf, so I could see down into the room.  The woman who lives in the house came up to him while talking on the phone and then put the phone up to Archie's ear so the person on the other end could TALK TO MY CAT. When she took the phone back, I heard her say, "Yeah, he's wearing his camera" so they knew my cat was filming the interior of their house.

    I have all the footage the three cats collected on a hard drive, but I've watched very little of it because the motion of the camera swinging back and forth makes me a little queasy. I'm not allowed to post any of it online, as it belongs to National Geographic, who may or may not use it in future specials. However, if you ever swing by Athens, I can show it to you in person.

    Fun trivia: the researchers that designed the cameras to go on the collars ended up using ob tampon cases to house them:!/amywatts/status/202168346286882816  This made me giggle more than once as I strapped a camera on to my (neutered) male cats.

  2. Congrats, Watts! It's been fun to follow this on fb & twitter.

  3. Jordan10:53 PM

    There's definitely a Wattstax joke to be made here, but it's not coming to me, so I'll just say congratulations, this is great.

  4. KarenNM11:04 PM

    I'll second the congrats - it's been fun following the adventure, though I am a little skeeved-out on your behalf about Archie's other family.  It's probably wrong that *I* feel betrayed!

  5. Adam C.11:33 PM

    From my first-hand observation today, here's a recap of what our indoor cat does when we're normally not home:

    He sleeps.  

    So kudos, Amy, on having cats with such rich extracurricular lives.

  6. spacewoman12:07 AM

    That is so cool! Congratulations!

  7. La Binsk1:50 AM

    I watched studly Brian Williams introduce this segment tonight but, of course, at the time I had no idea they were your cats. Cool! And congrats!

  8. Renee6:57 AM

    That's so cool!  Congrats Amy!  Swarley says hi to his furry brethren.

  9. Watts8:11 AM

    Adam, one of the reasons Otis didn't get much footage is because the camera had an automatic shutoff function if the cat remained immobile for too long. So, pretty sure that what Otis does outdoors is the same as your indoor cat.

  10. Tosy and Cosh10:03 AM

    When Hollywood grabs this and makes it into a thriller where the cat catches a crime and its owner must go on the run from the mob, who would you like to play you, Amy?

  11. That's so cool.  My cats have indoor-only lives, but they're very curious about what goes on beyond the apartment door. (The hallway is a major excursion for them.) 

  12. Chris Hemsworth

  13. Wouldn't that make you thor?

  14. Damn skippy.

  15. Marsha1:47 PM

    While this is ridiculously cool, I am completely creeped out by the kill sheet. Something about seeing it cartoon-quantified is ick-inducing.

  16. Watts2:32 PM

    It's supposed to be like the WWII flying aces who would paint their takedowns on their nosecones. I'm no artist, so I tried to find the simplest line art I could.

  17. Adam C.2:52 PM

    Wait, wait, wait - let's not get ahead of ourselves.  We first need to see the SyFy version of some of those kill sheet battles. Right now, I'd greenlight Smilodon vs. Basilisk and its sequel Smilodon vs. Anaconda: Search for the Blood Orchid.

  18. Hannah Lee10:11 PM


    Watts' kitties are so cute and adventurous, but I'm not a fan of the "free to roam" outdoor cat. For a few reasons, including:
    # 1 - We have coyotes nearby, so any cat let out runs the risk of not returning home.  Who wants to have their pet be coyote food?
    # 2 - Several neighbors have cats whose favorite entertainment is preying on songbirds, often in my back yard.    And from a broader perspective, free roaming cats do a lot of damage to wildlife 
    # 3 - I keep a small garden and often have the unhappy (and gross!) experience of weeding by hand and getting a handful of something that belongs in a litter box, not nestled in between the basil and parsley.

    So, I'm much more of a fan of the "keep house cats as house cats, inside" approach.