August 10, 2020 –

Before you begin trapping in a new area, a great way to set yourself up for success is to do some pre-scouting to understand the environment in which the community cats you are helping live, and to create a trapping plan.

Pre-scouting can help get a better sense of how many cats are actually in an area. As we all know, estimating the number of cats around is always difficult, and often people asking for help don’t have a true sense of the scale of their community. This also gives the cats in the area a chance to see you and – as you are not interacting with them yet – help them get used to you.

Though it is not always possible, it is helpful, you would do your pre-scouting at roughly the same time you will be returning for the actual trapping. For example, if you know you will be trapping at 9am on Sunday morning, showing up the preceding Sunday at 9am works nicely. You can get a sense of any distractions or challenges you are likely to face – is traffic high at that time? Are people generally out and about at that time that you will need to work around? Is there construction you need to be aware of?

Finally, pre-scouting where you will be trapping in advance will also help you get a sense of how you want to set up. Ideally, you will know just where you want to place your traps before you ever set one up. It is easy to spook the cats if you are doing all of this scouting while setting up traps, it reinforces to them that something isn’t right and can make them edgy.

Tools that are helpful to have when pre-scouting include:

  • A camera
  • Binoculars, if available
  • A print of a map of the area you will be working in – you can use Google maps or other mapping software for this – where you can draw in important locations (feeding areas, potential trap placement, etc.).