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#6323646 - 09/12/18 04:46 PM Why cats do this . . .
Lazarus Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 1438
Loc: Nevadafornia
Have you ever noticed how bobcats move through their habitat? Its a slow, steady, halting sort of pace. In contrast to some predators like coyotes or foxes, who move quite rapidly through their terrain, cats seem to be taking their own sweet time. So you might ask, are cats slow? Lazy? Or just cautious?

One reason for their slow gait has to do with how they detect prey. Cats, and most every other predator, visually detect prey using a system of image formation. That is, they have in their mind an image of what the prey looks like, and as they search through their habitat, they are looking for patterns, shapes, or colors which match the pre-formed image of the prey. It's really no different than what you and I do when we go deer hunting, for example. Successful deer hunters don't go wandering around looking for a broadside image of a mousy-brown deer with large antlers. Rather, experienced deer hunters look for patches of white, subtle movements like the flick of an ear or the twitch of a tail. We have in our mind, an image of what our prey looks like so we go tromping around looking for patterns that correspond with our pre-formed image.

Canines, on the other hand, use image formation less, and their nose much more. Certainly a hungry coyote has in mind what a hiding rabbit looks like, and is seeking a corresponding matching pattern of shape and color. However, canines depend much more on their noses to detect and verify the identity of their prey. Look at the size of a bobcat's eyes in relation to the rest of its body and you can quickly see that while they have a keen sense of smell, their forward-placed eyes are one of their primary detection senses.

In order to combat a cat's method of using image formation to locate prey, the prey animals themselves have evolved to use crypsis to counteract the image formed by a hungry bobcat. Crypsis is a camouflage of any of the sensory indicators (sight, sound, smell, etc)that give away the prey's location or identity. For example, an obvious form of crypsis is a hen pheasant and her drab-brown-dappled plumage. Contrasted to the bright, colorful rooster bird, the hen uses visual crypsis to hide from a hungry cat. Not to be outdone, bobcats (and other predators) are always "adjusting" their image formation to account for these variations. In effect, its always an "arms race" between predators and prey as the prey animals use varying camouflage techniques to avoid predators, and predators have to sharpen their detection skills.

One way a bobcat seeks to overcome crypsis is by altering its search rate. That is, it slows down its gait, allowing it to more thoroughly search for the image patterns of the prey it seeks. Several studies have discussed how altering the search rate by predators enhances not only the predator's ability to visually locate its prey, but it also counteracts the prey's attempted camouflage by allowing the predator to sort of "pick apart" the landscape rather than gloss over a jumbled set of images. Contrast the bobcat's hunting style with a coyote for example. The cat works slowly, carefully placing its feet so as not to alert a potential prey animal that it is near. The coyote, on the other hand, works quickly, steadily, almost like a land-based shark always in motion to constantly sense the air for the smell of its next meal. Once prey is detected, the coyote usually rushes its prey, while the cat sneaks as close as possible before making one short dash to seize its meal.

What does it all have to do with trapping? Well, a number of things but one obvious conclusion would be to use visual objects that correspond to the image formed by your intended target animal. For example, I know a successful -- and outside-the-box thinker -- bobcat trapper who uses full color, life-size cottontail silhouettes at some of his bobcat sets. They are set up under a bush in a natural location for a bunny to hide, and then he uses trail sets to catch the cats as they hunt the faux bunny. There has been much debate over the types of visual attractors that work best on bobcats. Everyone has their favorite. However, those visual objects that correspond to a bobcat's image formation patterns would seem to work the best. It may be as simple as small tufts of polyfil used to represent small bits of fur, or a brown piece of faux fur with a string for a tail to mimic a mouse. Reid Aiton of California used to sell a faux fur "critter" with big doll eyes for use in cage trapping. Those big doll eyes were the same shape and color as a jackrabbit's eyes and I'm sure many a bobcat met his fate because his image formation of a rabbit corresponded to Reid's deceptive critter eyes.

Conversely, some visual attractors like aluminum foil balls, CD's, and other objects may work from time to time to attract a cat, but they do little to resemble a prey animal or another bobcat. Do they work? Sure! Why? Again, scientist hypothesize that cats investigate these unusual objects for two reasons. One reason for closer inspection is due to the cat's near-sightedness. The cat simply has to get closer to determine with visual acuity what the object really is. Second, remember that arms race analogy I made at the beginning of this piece? Well, cats are always on the lookout for prey animals/birds trying to fool their eyesight by masquerading in some form other than the common image formation typically used by the cat. As a result, almost any strange object bears closer inspection to avoid being fooled by a clever camouflage tactic. However, once a cat gets close enough to determine that the object is not food or companionship, it generally loses interest rather quickly.

Good luck on the bobcat trapline!


Edited by Lazarus (09/13/18 11:38 AM)
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#6323649 - 09/12/18 04:53 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
WadeRyan Offline
trapper

Registered: 07/05/12
Posts: 1107
Loc: Nebraska
Thanks, good read. I enjoy your informative posts.
_________________________
Eventually everything must die.

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#6323652 - 09/12/18 04:55 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Monster Toms Offline
trapper

Registered: 05/16/10
Posts: 1355
Loc: The great cage state Colorado
Excellent read as always!
It also explains how when calling in cat country, most cats materialize out of thin air just sitting there looking for the rabbit.
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#6323655 - 09/12/18 04:59 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
petey Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 773
Loc: NW Tennessee
Another good one Mr Truman. Thank ya sir.

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#6323656 - 09/12/18 05:00 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Monster Toms]
Lazarus Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 1438
Loc: Nevadafornia
Originally Posted By: Monster Toms
Excellent read as always!
It also explains how when calling in cat country, most cats materialize out of thin air just sitting there looking for the rabbit.


Amen to that brother . . . and why you generally see coyotes coming a ways off, bounding along looking directly at the source of the sound.
_________________________
For SILVER VINE and the latest in visual attractors:
www.wyldwingsproductions.com

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#6323658 - 09/12/18 05:02 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Sharon Offline
"American Honey"

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 4532
Loc: Montana ,Rocky mtns.
Well written !

Love to enjoy and observe animal behaviors.

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#6323659 - 09/12/18 05:04 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Law Dog Online   content
trapper

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 14734
Loc: Central, SD
Used a tail cam on a dam crossing this cam was a few feet off of the trail so out of the natural travel way, the only things that stood out was the box was all black or red light must of attracted the cat to check it out.



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Was born in a Big City Will die in the Country OK with that!

Jerry Herbst

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#6323677 - 09/12/18 05:24 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Hunting Girl Offline
trapper

Registered: 05/18/14
Posts: 547
Loc: Ohio/Iowa
Very interesting!
One day I will catch a bobcat...

Why haven't you written this into an article for a trapping magazine yet?? grin
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What you do today matters. Pass it on
Always stay Humble and Kind
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#6323681 - 09/12/18 05:29 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Hunting Girl]
Lazarus Offline
trapper

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 1438
Loc: Nevadafornia
Originally Posted By: Hunting Girl


Why haven't you written this into an article for a trapping magazine yet?? grin


Not every trapper gets or reads trapping magazines. It was a thought I had after a friend asked a question last week so I thought it would be a topic for the internet trappers to kick around.
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For SILVER VINE and the latest in visual attractors:
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#6323683 - 09/12/18 05:30 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Boco Offline
trapper

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 16829
Loc: james bay frontierOnt.

A little dab of ferguslures felix s on a flyer gets em.


Edited by Boco (09/12/18 05:37 PM)

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#6323688 - 09/12/18 05:47 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Michael Morris Online   happy
trapper

Registered: 01/04/12
Posts: 4500
Loc: Cole County MO
Good stuff as always Tracy. Thanks for sharing smile
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#6323759 - 09/12/18 07:25 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Osky Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/09/13
Posts: 5723
Loc: Northern MN
Excellent read. I have watched so many doddling into the call over the years it makes me batty thinking of them. They can be coming along nicely to a horribly dying free meal and a late season bug flies up and off they go in that direction.

They are not hard to trap at all Lydia, don't over think them it's all about location.

Osky
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#6323772 - 09/12/18 07:41 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Taximan Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3969
Loc: SW Montana
I've been using rabbit silouhettes for quite a while now.Mine are reversible,cottontail one side,snowshoe on the other.You'd be surprised how many times lions go after them.

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#6323955 - 09/12/18 11:06 PM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Lockjaw52 Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/22/15
Posts: 192
Loc: Utah
Very informative Lazarus. Sure enjoyed your demo last weekend at the UTA convention. Grabbed some Bobcat drugs and stuff and getting started testing!

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#6323991 - 09/13/18 04:36 AM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
jabNE Offline
trapper

Registered: 08/25/13
Posts: 3709
Loc: Hickman, Nebraska
Wow very cool post.
Jim
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#6323993 - 09/13/18 04:42 AM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Mac Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 2064
Loc: Maine
Thank you Lazarus. Awesome insights to one of the most interesting critters. Thanks for the insights and making me think.
Mac
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#6324012 - 09/13/18 05:40 AM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
pcr2 Offline
"Twerker"

Registered: 05/17/10
Posts: 12949
Loc: potter co. p.a.
He's the cat whisperer. wink
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#6324017 - 09/13/18 05:53 AM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
west river rogue Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 3342
Loc: Philippines,,ohio
great read.
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#6324040 - 09/13/18 06:53 AM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Rcates Offline
trapper

Registered: 01/15/18
Posts: 120
Loc: Kansas
Very interesting!

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#6324172 - 09/13/18 09:50 AM Re: Why cats do this . . . [Re: Lazarus]
Northmocats Offline
trapper

Registered: 12/09/15
Posts: 374
Loc: Northern Missouri
Great Read and Valuable info.
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James

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