Thursday September 16, 2010 –11:00 p.m. – Great news! MUGSY was captured on camera for the past three days eating food (ALL of it was gone) at the trap! She is right in the same area (of the marsh) where our cameras caught her a week ago (on September 8th). Here’s the email that Vicki sent me tonight:
“Rick and I went up to the pass tonight ………..and OMG!!!! We have Mugsy on camera a dozen times or so. Here are a few of them. Exact same place as the one photo from the 8th of September. She was photographed on Tuesday Sept 14th at 7:30 pm, 8:30pm 9:30 pm, midnight and 4am on Weds Sept 15th. Then on Weds the 15th at 7pm, 8:30pm, 11:30 pm and then a little after midnight this morning (Thurs Sept 16th).”
This is fantastic news! What it means is that Mugsy has finally reached her “Threshold Factor” — a behavior that is mentioned on Missing Pet Partnership’s lost cat behavior page. Mugsy has been hiding in the same area (of the marsh) all of this time, a typical pattern that Missing Pet Partnership sees in displaced cats. The longer that a displaced cat stays and hides (in silence) in an area, the more their scent is deposited there. They ultimately urinate and defecate in that area, create a giant pool of their own scent, and that area becomes their new territory.
Ultimately, their terror subsides to milder fear. Eventually (sometimes days, sometimes weeks…depending on the temperament of the cat) they finally reach a “threshold” point where they overcome that fear. THAT is when you see them finally appear back home (if they escaped outside) or meow (when they’ve been hiding in the bushes outside their front door for six days), or they enter the humane trap that they’ve smelled for a few weeks. In my experience (13 years of recovering lost cats), once the cat crosses that threshold and starts responding to the scent of food (like Mugsy finally has) it is only a matter of a days until the cat is caught.
As you can tell by the photographs, Vicki did a GREAT job of camouflaging the humane traps! She rigged them open on both ends and created a tunnel instead of a cave. This made it more inviting for Mugsy to enter and it worked! Vicki also put the food outside of the trap, not in it. The purpose of this was to lure Mugsy (who is, or was thought to be, trap shy) to come up to the trap for food and be comfortable with the trap. Well, as you can see in the photo below, Mugsy is so comfortable that she’s using the trap as her bed!
So you’d think that Vicki would set the trap live tonight, but I instructed her that she still has one more step that she needs to do first. Tonight, she closed the back end of the trap so it will now be a cave, not a tunnel. And she dribbled cat food leading into the trap, placing 1/2 can of cat food at the far back of the trap, just beyond the trigger plate. She rigged the trap open so that it can’t close when Mugsy steps on the trigger plate. Here’s why: we may have only ONE SHOT at capturing Mugsy in that trap and we need for her to be completely and totally comfortable about going into it. Luring her into the trap one more night ought to do the trick.
I’m betting that within the next two days, Mugsywill be on her way to visit Mr. Veterinarian! THANK YOU for your thoughts and prayers and your faith. I’m on cloud nine right now and, based on the number of people following my blog, I suspect that I’m not alone!