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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.

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.

Do Not Punish Cats

03.22.2015 Do not punish cats when they do unwanted behaviors. When cats act out they’re not being bad. They’re responding to an event or circumstances in their environment. Because punishing cats can make them more stressed and feel insecure, it can escalate problems and cause others. Punishment also ruins relationships. Kitties associate the punishment with the punisher—it breaks the bonds between them and their people.

Instead of punishment, identify and then address the causes of the behaviors. Behavior does not happen in a vacuum. Once the reasons are pinpointed they can be addressed—cats taken to vets, litter box situations improved, neighborhood cats managed, etc.
For lively discussions about cat behavior, please check out The Cat Coach on Facebook.

Don’t punish cats. Instead, identify and address the causes of the behavior.

Don’t punish cats. Instead, identify and address the causes of the behavior. by Shutterstock.

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.

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

 

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