How can I trap my wayward kitty?
September 8, 2007 9:30 AM   Subscribe

How can I trap my lost cat? We know she's hanging out in a 2-3 house zone about a mile from us, but she isn't taking the bait in the Humane Society trap we set. What gives?

She has been missing for a whole month and someone a good mile away has repeatedly seen a cat matching her description in their yard, which has a wooded hillside behind it. Our cat is rather unique-looking and the people who saw her say the cat looks like her picture; so we do think this one is ours. She was seen Thursday morning and we were there within 15 minutes. She was gone. After searching and calling for her, we left out a trap baited with fried chicken and pieces of our worn clothes. No luck and it has been 2 days and 2 nights. Is she afraid of it? Do the raccoons scare her? Does she not like our clothes-smell anymore? How can we do a better job of enticing her to crawl inside this wire cage and set off the trap door? We have placed it in an area away from humans, so what else can we do? Has anyone out there had a similar experience they can relate that would help us get our beloved kitty back -- BEFORE we go on vacation in 2 weeks?
posted by Lockjaw to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Maybe try baiting the trap with something like canned salmon or tuna? We used salmon when I volunteered for a feral cat trap/spay/release group, and it worked nicely.
posted by paleography at 9:38 AM on September 8, 2007

Response by poster: We chose chicken because she looooves poultry and also because skunks like tuna. But it might be worth a shot during the day.
posted by Lockjaw at 9:41 AM on September 8, 2007

How about a bundle of catnip or a catnip toy as bait?

I don't know how well or from how far that would serve as an attractant though.
posted by CKmtl at 9:51 AM on September 8, 2007

When my cat would occasionally wander, I would call her back. When that didn't get a result in five minutes, I'd walk around calling her. Then I'd try tapping the cat food can as I do when giving her a treat of tuna, as I feel the metal sound broadcasts further than my voice. Your cat must have a name; doesn't she come when you call out the name? Just keep calling and walking around. Once I went around for a whole hour, and then found her at a door on the other side of the apartment building.

I wonder how your cat got so far away, and it makes me think someone has taken her in. That would make it harder for her to get home. In that case, I would put up some "lost cat" signs and also go door to door in the area asking people.
posted by Listener at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2007

Seconding tuna, it solves most cat related problems.
posted by fire&wings at 12:25 PM on September 8, 2007

Try walking around possible areas and doing whatever it is that usually gets her to come out - tapping on a bowl with a spoon and yelling "Dinner!", etc. Possibly embarrassing, but this is how I managed to get my cat back.
posted by Xere at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2007

Response by poster: Well, she has been gone for a whole month. That's plenty of time for a cat to walk one mile. She's scared and in unfamiliar territory. Cats in that situation don't come when they're called. We are fairly convinced she is hanging out in 2 specific back yard areas where there is a lot of brush. We called this morning (after re-baiting the trap with tuna) only to find out she reappeared less than an hour later after we had gone. So we went back and did it again. I sat hidden for an hour and she didn't come out. She was spayed, so there is no kitten possibility.

But what I just don't get is why she isn't taking the delicious bait that's there right where she has been repeatedly seen cruising around -- and in broad daylight, now less? Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by Lockjaw at 2:47 PM on September 8, 2007

Is the trap in what she would consider a safe place? Maybe it needs to be further away from things. Also, it helped for me when we covered all but the entrance with a blanket so that she didn't feel exposed when getting into it.

Use the cheapest stinkiest tuna. White albacore doesn't smell.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:09 PM on September 8, 2007

But what I just don't get is why she isn't taking the delicious bait that's there...

Speaking as somebody with a stray-feeding spouse: is there a chance somebody in that area could be feeding her? If yes, I'd think about going door-to-door...
posted by kmennie at 4:33 PM on September 8, 2007

It may also be that the cat is wary of anything even vaguely cage-shaped. Ours is; if we want to put her in the travel crate to take her to the vet, we have to do the catching-and-wrapping-in-a-towel thing before we even go and get the crate out of the cupboard - she knows perfectly well what that crate is for, and she wants no part of it, and if she sees it or even hears the jangle of the lid she is so out of there.
posted by flabdablet at 1:47 AM on September 9, 2007

If she's being fed, which I imagine is true, she is not going to go in the cage. I don't think my cat would either, as she would react to any crate or cage very cautiously. Now, if you could make it look like a wonderful cardboard box, you might have a chance. You waited an hour. Try three, whatever it takes to get her to hear and see you. Yes, you should go door to door. Someone probably is caring for your cat.
posted by Listener at 2:17 AM on September 9, 2007

If the homeowners are cooperative, put away the cage and lay nice wet dish of tuna out. Place it right by a (closed) door, and find a vantage point where you can see the dish without an approaching cat seeing you (inside would be great if they'll let you hang out for up to an hour--if the cat doesn't appear while it's that fresh, go home and try again the next day with a new can).

Then when the cat shows, you can call it to you. Don't make any sudden movements. Just call, and wait. Let the cat approach you. It's scared. It's disoriented. Let it sort out that you're a familiar person in an unfamiliar setting. Having some milk or cool water at your side, to wash down the tuna, may help break the ice.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:23 AM on September 10, 2007

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