Why do cats pounce?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents - Karen Em­slie

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Hunt­ing con­sumes a huge amount of en­ergy, and it is much more calo­rie-ef­fi­cient for cats to sit, wait, stalk and pounce rather than travel long dis­tances over dif­fi­cult ter­rain. Fe­line en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture has been the sub­ject of re­cent re­search by sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, who de­vel­oped a high-tech col­lar equipped with GPS and ac­celerom­e­ters to track and mon­i­tor wild moun­tain li­ons. They found that not only do the cats use the most en­ergy-ef­fi­cient form of hunt­ing and stalk­ing, but they also ad­just the power of their pounce depend­ing on the size of their prey.

The team also stud­ied cap­tive moun­tain li­ons and dis­cov­ered that, de­spite their strength, they lack a high aer­o­bic ca­pac­ity, and there­fore have a slow walk­ing pace. This en­ables them to con­serve en­ergy for killer bursts of speed and power pounces.

Study­ing moun­tain li­ons’ use of en­ergy can help man­age­ment strate­gies for this de­clin­ing species.

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