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June 26, 2017

The Best Way to Capture Wild Cats is with a Trail Camera

One of the many gifts of technology is the trail camera. They make it possible for us to comfortably admire animals, including wild cats, that are unencumbered by cages, without disrupting their lives and impacting the environment. It’s especially sweet when wild cats of all sizes are caught in the lenses, living their lives and engaging in instinctual behaviors.

I love trail cameras—the possibility of capturing the local cougars and bob cats on video has always intrigued me. A few weeks ago, an opportunity only a few minutes from my home, presented itself. I couldn’t resist.

After we spotted the gray fox and found what looked like evidence of a mountain lion it was obvious that we had to set up a trail camera.

At first glance, the fox looked stunned, lying motionless in the creek below us. Only his ears moved, tracking every sound and movement. We gave him space until he finally stood up and followed the creek to safety. A short distance from where we initially spotted the fox, the creek pooled—a perfect water source for him and other local fauna during these hot summer days. There are also redwood trees nearby. On inspection, we found that three of them have deep scratches in the bark, starting about 5-6 feet from the ground.  Could these be made by local mountain lions patrolling and marking their territory? We wanted to find out.

Grey fox below us in the creek. Photo by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

Grey fox below us in the creek. Photo by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

I did my homework. You can’t just buy a camera, set it up and expect the locals to wander by and perform. It doesn’t work like that—there’s a lot that can go wrong and it can take months until an animal triggers the camera. I contacted the Bay Area Puma Project for guidance and searched the web for tips. Sadly, some of the best sources are pages published by hunters.

Based on my research and tips from BAPP, we decided that the Bushnell Aggressor camera was the best bet. Additionally, I bought a security box, batteries, found a cable and a secure lock—necessities because of the humans who periodically traipse the property.

Learning all about the new camera and taking videos of wild cats. Photo by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

Learning all about the new trail camera. Photo by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

The best locations for trail cameras are spots that aim up game trails. Animals are fast—cameras are slow in comparison. Because it takes a fraction of a second to trigger the camera, when positioned wrong, videos often capture tails and rear ends instead of whole animals.  After a lot of discussion and test pictures we secured the camera to a post, focused up the game trail. It also took in the marked trees and the creek.

Now’s the hard part—waiting.  Ideally, we should wait at least 2-3 weeks before checking trail cameras. I’m impatient, I don’t think I can wait that long…

For lively discussions about cats and cat behavior, please follow The Cat Coach on Facebook!

Find out how to keep cats happy! Check out Marilyn’s book Naughty No More!

Purrs Help Newborn Kittens Survive

04.12.15 Kittens are born blind and deaf. The vibration of their mother’s purr helps guide newborns to their first meals. Purring also helps keep them safe from predators. Because purr vibrations are not as easily detected as meows and other vocalizations, it is harder for predators to find the newborns. Purrs help newborn kittens survive.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook 

Purrs help new borns survive

Purrs help new borns survive. by Fotolia.

 

Litter Box Locations Matter

04.05.15  Litter box locations matter to cats. Cats do not like eliminating in places where they can potentially be cornered or where they feel trapped. Ideal litter box locations have great views—allowing cats to see what is going on around them and to easily escape any potential threat. Cabinets, closets, most bathrooms and behind doors are poor places for litter boxes because they set up situations where cats can be cornered and trapped.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook

Litter box locations matter

Litter box locations matter. Closets and cabinets are poor locations for boxes. by Marilyn Krieger.

Obesity is Unhealthy for Cats

03.15.15 Obesity is unhealthy for cats. It can lead to serious medical issues and it decreases life expectancy. Before putting cats on diets or exercise programs, have them thoroughly examined by a veterinarian.

Help keep your cats svelte by encouraging them to work a little for their meals. Instead of food bowls, place small portions of food and treats on cat trees, shelves, in puzzle feeders and boxes. Do treat rolls. Roll cat food and treats on the floor for them to chase. If you have a stairwell, roll the food down the stairs. Play also helps burn calories. Use a pole toy to encourage cats to move and climb by pulling it on cat trees, shelves and sofas. Always be mindful of your cat’s age and physical conditioning. A little movement for an elderly or unhealthy cat can go a long way.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook

Obesity is unhealthy for cats.

Obesity is unhealthy for cats. by Fotolia.

Cat Behavior and Medical Issues

03.01.15 Cats need to be examined by veterinarians whenever their behavior changes or they have behavior issues. Felines are subtle—sometimes the only indications of medical problems or injuries are changes in behavior. Elimination issues, aggression as well as other behavior challenges can be caused by painful and sometimes serious diseases, injuries and chronic conditions. Even subtle changes in behavior need to be checked out.

Cats need to be examined by a veterinarian when they display changes in behavior.

Cats need to be examined by a veterinarian when they display changes in behavior. by Shutterstock.

For lively discussions about cats and cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook

Help Feral Cats Survive the Winter

02.22.15 Help feral cats survive the winter by building simple shelters for them. Take two large, but different sized plastic storage bins that fit inside each other—with about 3-6 inch clearance on all sides. The smallest box needs to be large enough to comfortably house at least two cats. After measuring and creating a template, cut “U” or “O” shaped entrances in one side of both bins, making sure they align. Put insulating material on the bottom of the large bin and then place the smaller one inside it. Stick straw, egg cartons or other insulating materials between the two boxes to help keep them warm. Straw on the bottom will also help with warmth and make the make-shift shelters more comfortable. Put the lid on the smaller box, put insulating material on top and then snap the cover on the large box. Face them away from the wind and against walls or other structures so that they do not blow away.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook

Keep Outdoor Cats Safe During Winter

02.09.15 Keep outdoor cats safe during winter and when it is cold. Some risk their lives by climbing up under warm car hoods. Develop the habit of banging on the hood of your car before starting it. This will give cats who might be under your car or hood a chance to escape. Help cats survive the winter, bring indoor/outdoor kitties inside and provide warm, dry areas for ferals.

Outdoor cats sometimes seek refuge under car hoods. by Fotolia.

Outdoor cats sometimes seek refuge under car hoods. by Fotolia.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out  The Cat Coach on Facebook

Cats Scratch Objects When Stressed

02.01.15 Cats will do a number of behaviors when they feel stressed or conflicted. In addition to self-soothing, many of these behaviors help change or eliminate the causes of the stress. Scratching objects is one of these. Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, including when they are anxious and conflicted. While helping them cope with their feelings, they are marking their territories when scratching.

Cats will scratch objects when they are stressed.

Cats will scratch objects when they are stressed. by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook.

Best Cat Carriers for Veterinarian Visits

01.25.15 Vet visits are notoriously stressful for cats and people. The best cat carriers for veterinarian visits are hard shelled with detachable tops. Tops are easily removed, allowing veterinarians to do partial and sometimes complete exams while the cats are still in their carriers.

For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook.

Train Cats to Scratch the Right Furniture

Set up for success: cat scratching info-graphic

Many cats are unnecessarily declawed because they scratch household furniture. Although cats have to scratch, they can be easily trained to scratch appropriate objects and avoid scratching couches and carpets.

This info-graphic describes why cats have to scratch and how you can train cats to scratch the right furniture. It is my hope that it will help keep cats from becoming declawed. It first appeared in an article I wrote titled How to Train Cats to Scratch Only Where They Should for Catster.com

You are welcome to use and distribute it as is, without alteration.

Cats can be trained to scratch the right furniture by Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

For lively discussions about cats and behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook.