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October 23, 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 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.

 

Covered litter boxes

03.29.15  The best litter boxes for cats are large and uncovered. Covered litter boxes can be unpleasant for cats—they keep the odors in and cats feel they can be trapped and ambushed in them. Instead of covered litter boxes, get your cats large, uncovered, transparent plastic storage containers. These boxes have high sides, keeping litter in, but at the same time allowing cats to easily escape. If your cat has difficulty jumping into them, cut a “U” into one side.

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

Large, uncovered storage boxes make perfect litter boxes for cats.

Large, uncovered storage boxes make perfect litter boxes for cats. by Marilyn Krieger.

Redirected Aggression

03.08.2015 Redirected aggression is frightening. It makes enemies out of bonded friends. It happens when animals of any species, unable to respond directly to a threat, vent their frustrations on the nearest animal. Common causes of redirected aggression in cats are neighborhood cats. The inside cats can see and sometimes smell the outsiders but are unable to reach them. Frustrated, they turn their angst onto whoever is nearby. Immediate action needs to be taken. Without risking becoming a victim of the aggression, herd the reactive cat into a room where there are no other animals, including people, and close the door. The room should have a litter box, food, water and a place to sleep. It may take a few hours, over night or longer for the cat to calm down.

Cat looking out of a window.

Cat looking out of a window. 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.

Jacobson Organ

01.11.15 Cats have a couple of organs that allow them to smell odors. One is the nose. The other is the Jacobson organ, also referred to as the vomeronasal organ, located in the hard palates of mouths. It is used for primarily smelling pheromones as well as other odors. Your cat isn’t just making a funny face when she is grimacing, wrinkling her muzzle and opening her mouth—she is flehmening, opening the passage that leads to the organ in order to sample specific odors.

Cat flehmening

Cat Flehmening by Shutterstock.

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

Some Cats Eat and Drink with Their Paws

01.04.15  Some cats eat and drink with their paws; scooping food and water from their bowls before eating. The bowls may be too narrow and deep or in poor locations. Whiskers, with their own nerves and blood supply, are sensitive. Some cats are bothered by the sensation of their whiskers touching the sides. It is also difficult for cats to see possible threats when they are eating out of deep bowls. Bowls should be shallow and wide so that whiskers don’t touch the sides and views aren’t obstructed. Locations matter too. Cats need to feel safe while eating. Place bowls in quiet areas, away from other resident animals and threats; in places kitties can see and escape possible threats.

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

Cat Kisses

11.23.14  Cats often show trust, relaxation and affection to their people and other cats through slowly blinking with half closed eyes. This action is referred to as cat kisses. People, mimicking cat kisses can also communicate to felines that they feel relaxed and trusting around them. Depending on the circumstances and the individual cats, their messages of contentment can elicit similar responses from kitties.

Asia, a happy, contented cat

Asia, a happy, contented cat

Cats Show Affection by Head Bunting

11.16.14 One of the many ways that cats show their people affection is by head bunting them—rubbing their foreheads, temples and sides of their heads on their favorite people, cats, dogs and other companions. They leave their scent on whomever they head butt, mingling their scents with their companions. The behavior is a social and comforting behavior, limited only to those the cats have friendly relationships with.

Cats Show People Affection through Their Tails

11.09.14 Cats have many ways of displaying affection towards their favorite people. One of the sweet ways cats show people affection is through their tails. Sometimes cats will slightly raise the fur around the base while quivering the tail tips. Another way they use them to show affection is by wrapping them around the hands, arms and ankles of their favorite people.