Trapping Techniques 2: Placing Trap
Where do I place the trap?
Place trap in places that would offer concealment but not confinement, and avoid trapping in places that are wide open. Frightened animals tend to slink along edges of things. Good spots would be: along fence lines, areas heavily protected by brush, near sheds, under decks, etc. When the animal evaluates the approachability of something, it will try to gauge the safety from afar: it will want to know that it can approach with some degree of camouflage, and yet see enough open space so it wouldn't feel cornered both concealment and avenue of escape.
If there is a cubbyhole that you pick to trap, face the trap IN towards the hole. If you trap under a deck, place trap along a wall or, again, inward facing. If you are using multiple traps, place each trap out of the sight of the other trap; seeing a trapped animal may prevent another animal from entering the second trap.
Generally, frightened animals stay away from houses, but in cold or rainy weather, the distance an animal strays may be closer. You can place a trap close to a house as long as the cat has unimpeded access to its perceived safety of the wild. In cold snowy weather, one man, John, was able to trap his cat on his neighbor's porch under a picnic table.
If you are repeatedly trapping on a single property, try to create a Safe Haven that would attract a frightened and hungry animal to stick around: leave containers of water in several protected areas at all times; place canned cat food out in the daytime (not in the traps) in protected areas (then at night remove this food and put fresh food in the traps); walk around the property barefoot and plan activities like weeding or other yard work that would regularly leave your scent in the area.
What areas in my neighborhood might my cat be hiding?
The ideal place for a hiding cat is an area with no resident cats or dogs, but with access to food and water. Indoor cats are often found within a five-house radius of their own home. They may move if chased by a dog or a cat, or if they feel threatened, but once they spend some time and deposit their scent in an area, they will most likely stay put. If your cat is a timid outdoor or sick/injured cat, there is a greater chance that your cat will be found somewhere within its territory which can range in size from several acres for a country cat to micro territories for a city cat. If you know the area your cat roams, concentrate your search in this area, then move out from there. Think like your cat. Where would a frightened kitty hide? What areas would be attractive and what areas would be avoided? Think low, not high.
Is it ok to trap on my neighbor's property?
You must get permission before trapping on anyone's property. On the day that you trap, remember to leave your name and phone number at these homes in case they need to reach you. Note the date and location of trapping on your map so you have a record of areas covered.
How can I get my neighbor to allow me to trap? My pet's life is at stake!
Many neighbors will probably be sympathetic and allow you to trap on their property, but there may be some who are reluctant. Try not to take it personally.
Some tips on maintaining good neighbor relations: Be respectful of their privacy and their busy lives. Ask them which times are most convenient to set up and pick up the trap. If they leave very early in the morning and find it too hectic to let you onto their property, show them how to close the door of an EMPTY trap, and then ask them to leave the CLOSED trap on their porch or side yard where you can pick it up later. Express your appreciation for their cooperation (perhaps give a plant, a treat for their pet, or an animal coloring book for their kids, etc. as a "thank you").
If a family is resistant to trapping, don't write them off completely! They can still be helpful in other ways. While they may not give permission to trap, perhaps they will allow searches on foot or keep an eye out when they go for a walk.
How often should I check the trap?
If you leave your trap overnight, check it no later than 8 am (7 am if in a hot summer area). Hopefully you were able to set it fairly late so any potentially trapped animal was confined for the smallest amount of time. Some people prefer to not leave their trap unmonitored at any time.
When trapping on your property, or close proximity, leave your windows open at night or set up a baby monitor (or other speaker device) so that you can hear if the trap closes and respond quickly.
How often should I move the trap?
Kat Albrecht of Missing Pet Partnership recommends trapping in one area until the trap is empty or "trapped out." What this means is, if you are getting non-target animals (opossums or raccoons) for 3 nights let's say, keep trapping in the same spot until you catch nothing at all. Then, move your trap to another location and repeat this process. Once you have completed trapping the target area, you may have to retrap the same circuit, or decide to widen the search area. Early on, your cat will be less hungry and more wary about entering a trap. As with Sage, you may have to repeatedly trap in the same area to recover your cat.
My cat has been spotted regularly eating at a neighbor's house for 3 days, but he won't come to me or let anyone near him.
The best way to bring home a cat that runs from people is to
set food in a trap at the next mealtime. Warn your neighbors
to NOT APPROACH your pet because it may run again.
Techniques 1 2
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