Ever wondered what your cat does when you’re not around? Author Caroline Paul was gripped by the question after her anxious and timid cat Tibby disappeared for several weeks, only to return fat, happy and confident. So Paul and her partner, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, took the logical next step: they strapped a GPS and camera on Tibby to sniff out his secret second life. Paul and MacNaughton join Forum to discuss their intrepid investigation, the elusive lives of cats and their book, “Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology.”



KQED Arts visited Wendy MacNaughton's studio to learn more about her approach to illustrated journalism. She also chanelled Bob Ross, demonstrating how to draw a coffee cup and a wineglass.


Caroline Paul, author of "Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology"
Wendy MacNaughton, illustrator for "Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology"

  • Livegreen

    Cats kill billions of birds and mammals every year, according to scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service & featured in the NY Times.

    As the environmentally responsible owner of an indoor cat, I must offer constructive criticism of outdoor cat owners: allowing your cat to roam outdoors might be emotionally satisfying for you but it is not good for those billions of wild birds and small mammals, many of which are endangered species. (Ultimately its not healthy for cats either).

    Let fly the emotion of outdoor cat activists…

    Link to the NY Times article & image of your cat on wildlife:

    • Bob Fry

      Whatever. It’s not like there’s a fixed supply of birds, mice, gophers, and rats…the ones the cats catch are replaced. Eat, and be eaten, is nature’s way. Cats are driven to explore and keeping them indoors is unnatural and probably cruel to them. I do believe in spaying them, the world has enough cats and adding more is not a good idea.

      • Livegreen

        Your cat is close to you therefor you care about your cat. The thousands of animals it kills are not close to you therefor you could care less about them. Typical selfishness of an outdoor cat owner.

        I guess if dogs don’t want to be on a leash then you support letting them run free and eat whatever they want? (Cats?).

        Re “it’s not like there’s a fixed supply of” many animals, actually there is. Haven’t you heard of endangered species? Outdoor cats don’t discriminate. Plus there is an oversupply of cats (because of humans) that is especially hard on wild animals. In our neighborhood we have lots of cats and very few birds. Also our neighbors have told us about the endangered salamanders it brigs home REGULARLY.

        • Bob Fry

          If you want to carry the do-gooder stuff to extreme, you shouldn’t own any pet, since those resources could be used for the world’s poor.
          As citizens of a 1st-world country, our very existence somewhere in the middle-class means we consume way more than is sustainable and “fair”. So be it, I’m aware of it but won’t obsess over it and won’t condemn others their choices so I can feel righteous about mine.
          Dogs are leashed in most part because they can be big enough to hurt people, and often run to people to investigate them (jumping on them and perhaps biting them in the process), while cats typically run away from strangers.

          • Livegreen

            Being a responsible cat owner, just like being a responsible dog owner, is easy. Only for those who live in absolutes is it carrying “the do-gooder stuff to extreme.”

      • Livegreen

        I meant “the cat brings home”.

      • Constance

        Do a little research, Bob. Just a little. Cats are what we call an invasive species. You let them roam, they kill creatures that belong here. New Zealand is raring to ban house cats for this very reason.

        “What happened to the kaka bird? What about the weka, the kokako or the kiwi? They are all in danger of extinction, like so many of New Zealand’s unique animal species. Too often, they end up in the jaws of what is probably the most murderous predator on the planet.”

    • menloman

      Earth to Livegreen: Cats eat those things because they are designed that way. On the other hand there is no accounting for your lunacy.

  • blinkytoo

    What is a cheap GPS brand and where can I get one to track my cat?

  • Lisa Brown

    I’d love to hear more about the author and illustrator’s process — how they collaborated, how being partners all senses changed that dynamic at all.

  • Cool Colin

    The life expectancy of an outdoor cat is 4-5 years. The life expectancy of an indoor cat is 12-18 years. It is irresponsible to let your cat outside. This is a fun book, but this should not be encouraged.

    • blinkytoo

      A tiger in a cage can live for 50 years but a wild tiger probably much less. But which is the happy tiger. We would love to keep our cats indoors but they love go out. It is hard…

    • Doug F

      Your stats are accurate. But our 2 cats would be miserable if confined indoors 100%. Our compromise is to live on a very quiet T-junction street (which took 2 months to find), so they’re in less danger from cars, & to lock them indoors between 10pm & 8am, when they feel most like roaming far afield & making trouble. They spend most of their outdoor time on the neighbor’s garage roof, which is hardly risky. They’ve only caught 1 bird (that we know of) in 2 1/2 years, but lots of insects. They’re very happy.

  • CyberSkull

    One of our cats used to love drinking out of the faucet in the hall bathroom. On hot summer nights, he would even sleep in the sink (with the faucet dripping on him!).

  • CyberSkull

    Try the manga What’s Micheal. It’s about adventures of a cat named Micheal, and other cat related tales.

  • Amanda Stupi

    Here’s the CatCam film that the caller just mentioned:

  • Mrs. Eccentric


    i was so excited to listen to this show, but a bit disappointed at the hour of broadcast. The bouch, resident feline, generally takes his brunch down the lane at this hour and it would be more fun to listen with.

    You’ll be happy to know he just showed up. steph

  • CyberSkull

    One of the neighbor cats came into our house once, she just walked in and took a nap on our couch. She was really sweet about it too. Very friendly.

  • My cat mango has the strangest habit and has passed this habit on to our new kitty poppy. He and now poppy both love to lay down in the bath tub and drink the water that is left from the last shower that was taken in there.

    • Doug F

      Not so unusual. Many cats, including one of our 2 sisters, would rather drink water from ANYWHERE except their water bowl, including the sinks, bathtub, toilet, & outdoor puddles. They like their water to have to some flavor & body. .

  • CyberSkull

    Four of our cats have been adoptees. Two moved in from the neighbors, two moved out to another neighbor.

  • Maria

    Cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year–according to a study that was published in January in Nature Communications.

    • Mihaly Kummer

      Bird supposed to die in ER, or at least in a hospital. in 1996, Gaston and Blackburn suggest that there are between 200 and 400 billion birds on the planet. …Abstract: Information on the size of populations of domestic cats from 42 countries allow us to estimate the total number of cats in the world: 400 millions. Methods and results are discussed. So, each cat eats about 1000 bird a year. Including eagles, and ostriches.

      • Mihaly Kummer

        My past away cat, was an lazy one, during his lifetime he killed no more than 50. He also try to kill 10 dogs, and about 20 raccoons unsuccessfully, + 3 brooms, and few toys.

    • Chris J

      Nature at work.

  • Maria

    Bells on collars haven’t been shown to work–something that is called a
    “cat bib” has been shown to be a little more effective. You can Google

  • Maria

    The Humane Society currently has an online pledge to keep cats, birds, and other wildlife safe in your community.

    the link to the Humane Society Pledge: If you love cats and wildlife
    like we do, we want to make sure you know how to keep them both safe.
    Sign this pledge and say YES to do your part to keep cats, birds and
    other wildlife safe in your

    • Doug F

      The Humane Society, at least the Berkeley one, won’t even let you adopt a cat unless you promise to keep it indoors only. I think that’s overdoing it, although they’re still welcome to encourage that. The E Bay SPCA (where I volunteer) has no such requirement.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    We live in the Sierras and have a bobcat in the area that we have seen jump and catch birds, as well as raid ground nests. Cats are meant to be wild and this means they will and do catch other wild game to eat.

  • Kathleen

    I am appalled at the interviewees’ laissez faire attitudes over the issue of safety for the cat or for wildlife. Our domesticated cats are not bobcats or tigers, and they are not native predators that fits into our ecosystem and keeps it balanced. They are also not a good match for cars, trucks, raccoons or coyotes. In my 20 years as a vet tech I saw the victims of these encounters come into the veterinary hospital mangled or dead over and over again. My cats, adopted from the shelter, have always been strictly indoors because I am mindful that keeping them safe and healthy trumps some fantasy I might have that they “belong” outside.

  • JMS

    Wow, this was an astounding show. Michael, I’ve listened to your show for years, and you host this outdoor cat love fest with barely a couple mentions on predation? How disappointing.

    As some others commented or alluded to, “domestic” cats are listed on most any invasive species list you can find.

    Being a dog lover, I bet these cat people would be the first to scold a dog off-leash without acknowledging the fact that off leash dogs are with their owners, but yet I regularly have to shoo away neighborhood cats from my bird feeders.

    Cat owners denialism of the level of predation, or justifying it by claiming it’s wild and natural is about as intellectually incomprehensible as climate change, or evolution denialsim. There is no such thing as a “responsible outdoor cat owner”

    from the Global Invasive Species Database:
    #38. Felis catus (mammal) Felis catus was domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean c. 3000 years ago. Considering the extent to which cats are valued as pets, it is not surprising that they have since been translocated by humans to almost all parts of the world. Notable predators, cats threaten native birdlife and other fauna, especially on islands where native species have evolved in relative isolation from predators.Common Names: cat, domestic cat, feral cat, Hauskatze, house cat, poti, pusiniveikau

    From New York Times:

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