Cats - playful pets, fearsome fighters...
They beguile us, intrigue us
and mercilessly exploit us.
But how much do we really understand these enigmatic creatures?
Millions of us have cats in our homes.
They're one of our favourite pets
and yet we still know very little about them.
Yeah, he's a good boy.
In last year's Horizon, we revealed what the cats of one village
got up to once they left the cat flap.
Now we're taking it even further.
In a ground-breaking scientific study,
we've asked some of the world's top cat experts to run experiments
investigating the secrets of our feline friends.
What happens in the milliseconds before our cats pounce...
Wow, that's unbelievable.
..and what makes them the gymnasts of the animal kingdom?
We're able to see this for the first time in the last few years.
That is extraordinary.
To delve even deeper into their hidden world,
we're fitting our cats with state-of-the-art tracking devices and cameras.
We're aiming to create the definitive guide to your cat.
And tonight we'll reveal how your cuddly pet
can transform into a hunting, fighting machine.
One of the reasons I love cats is
they've clearly still got this independent wild side.
But just how close are they really to their wild, big-cat cousins?
Do we have a lion in our laps?
We're following 100 cats
in three very different environments
to get an insight into their secret lives.
In the crowded terraces of Brighton,
we're tracking city cats like Ozzy,
battling to protect his title as King of the Street.
Ozzy is called Ozzy because of Ozzy Osbourne.
He believes that this is his territory
and he's trying to defend it.
In Rottingdean, village cats like Sandwich
have room to roam and hunt.
We've had mice and a bird and a rabbit,
and so far that's all,
but there's lambs in the field nearby, so we never know.
And we're comparing our urban cats with farm cats,
who have to hunt to survive.
All the information comes back to Cat HQ,
where it's pored over by experts...
This is the first 24 hours and you can see
all our cats in different colours and named here.
..so we can build up the most comprehensive
picture of the cat we've ever had.
We're going to start with the wildest cats in our study,
to find out how they hunt.
We're off to David Hicks' farm
where semi-feral working cats are employed to catch rats.
How many cats do you have here now in total?
About 18. 18 cats? Yeah.
And why did you get them originally, David?
The rat population was just totally out of control.
They were getting in the cattle food,
digging under the floor of the shed,
it was just absolutely alive with rats.
So we got three half-grown cats
from a friend of mine who had some feral cats,
and they've never looked back, the rats are just wiped out.
Filming a hunt is incredibly hard to do.
Shall I do this one? Yeah, definitely.
Just unclip it? Give it a pull.
To help us work out where to put our motion sensitive cameras,
we've put tracking collars and cat-cams on these cats.
These GPS traces show Mr Tom hunting in the hedgerows,
while Growler sets out in the opposite direction,
to the stables nearly a kilometre away.
Over the last 24 hours,
the cats have spread out across an area
the size of 15 football pitches!
But all the cats still spend a lot of their time
hunting in the farmyard,
so cameraman, Robin, has staked it out with specialist cameras.
Now, all we have to do is sit and wait...
We see foxes,
and lots of cats.
And eventually we capture something that's rarely been filmed.
Cat behaviour expert, Dr John Bradshaw,
wants to see for himself.
Hi, guys. Hi. What have we got so far, then?
Here we go, we've got a little shot here.
A little bit of cat and mouse.
Oooh, that's good, that's very good.
Yes, indeed, that was a really quick kill, surprisingly quick.
It killed it straightaway - in the mouth, done.
Yeah, that was real hunting behaviour,
it's not the kind of thing you might see in a pet cat,
this is real predatory behaviour.
These cats are hunting for their living.
That's how they get most of their calories.
The farm cats prowl the farmyard, watching and waiting,
until they detect mice we can't even see.
Then, with an explosion of raw power,
The kill is over in under two seconds.
So what is it about a cat's body
that gives it this split-second timing and pinpoint accuracy?
So if we can get the cat.
Here at the Royal Veterinary College,
we're setting up an experiment to find out
how your cat manages to pull off a kill like that.
We're going to analyse exactly how they move.
We're placing these dots over Rob's main joints.
We're going to track them with a high-speed camera.
And we're recording the pressure through Rob's paws on a floor pad.
Now we can analyse every step he takes.
Our experiment reveals that Rob rarely straightens his legs.
Unlike dogs, whose legs are much straighter when they move,
cats are almost always in this crouched posture,
even when they run flat out.
So if we look at the skeleton of a domestic cat here,
we can see how the skeleton is set up
to be in this kind of crouched posture,
where the knee is really bent,
the elbow's quite bent, shoulder, hip, so forth,
and that gives the domestic cat a lot of
agility, manoeuvrability and even stealth.