Journal of Ethology

, 27:165 | Cite as

The reproductive tactics and activity patterns of solitary carnivores: the Iriomote cat

  • Krzysztof Schmidt
  • Nozomi Nakanishi
  • Masako Izawa
  • Maki Okamura
  • Shinichi Watanabe
  • Sachiko Tanaka
  • Teruo Doi


Felids are generally considered to be crepuscular and nocturnal in their activity, but few studies have attempted to analyze the variability of their activity patterns. We studied the daily activity of the Iriomote cat Prionailurus iriomotensis by radio-tracking on Iriomote Island, Japan. The general activity patterns of Iriomote cats showed slightly prevailing activity during dark periods of the day with particular peaks at dawn and dusk or during the early hours of the night. However, these patterns were clearly dependent on the sex and reproductive status of the cat. Peaks of cats’ activity coincided with those of their main prey. On average, the cats were active for thirteen hours per day. During the mating season, the rhythm of activity in males followed that of breeding females, but not that of non-breeding ones. Males exhibited 11% higher total daily activity and longer active bouts during the mating period than in the remainder of the year. Breeding females had additional mid-day activity peak during the nursing period, but their total time of activity per day was 16% lower than in the period of kittens’ independence. Their active bouts were shorter and more frequent during nursing than at other times. These results suggest that lactating females perform frequent movements to and from the den site to care for kittens. During the non-nursing period, females increased their activity, possibly in response to lowered prey abundance and the need of intensive foraging to recover after lactation. Seasonal and sexual variation of activity patterns in the Iriomote cats confirmed the existence of different reproductive strategies of males and females of these solitary carnivores.


Prionailurus iriomotensis Activity rhythm Breeding Mating Predator–prey relationships Reproduction 



The field work was carried out using the facility of the Iriomote Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Centre of the University of the Ryukyus, through the courtesy of Professor Tokushiro Takaso. We are greatly indebted to Professor Hidetoshi Ota for his generous support during our study. We thank Professor Masao Akuzawa and his assistants for tranquilizing cats and care of animals when sedated. We are grateful to Dr Lon I. Grassman and Dr Matt W. Hayward for improving the English of the first draft and their valuable comments. We greatly appreciate comments by two anonymous reviewers. This study was partly supported by Grants-in Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan (No. 11480152) and by the twenty-first century COE program of the University of the Ryukyus.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krzysztof Schmidt
    • 1
    • 4
  • Nozomi Nakanishi
    • 2
  • Masako Izawa
    • 2
  • Maki Okamura
    • 2
    • 5
  • Shinichi Watanabe
    • 2
    • 6
  • Sachiko Tanaka
    • 2
  • Teruo Doi
    • 3
  1. 1.Tropical Biosphere Research CenterUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Environmental StudiesNagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan
  4. 4.Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of SciencesBiałowieżaPoland
  5. 5.Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center, Ministry of the EnvironmentYaeyamaJapan
  6. 6.Faculty of Life Science and BiotechnologyFukuyama UniversityHiroshimaJapan

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