How Do I Get My Escaped Kitties Back?

DungeonMaster

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A window screen popped out and three of my cats escaped. One panicked and came right back in the way he came but the other two are who-knows-where.

For some context:
  • One of the missing cats was a stray, the other two feral but slowly tamed over the course of a year. Strangely, it was one of the feral ones who panicked and came back inside right away.
  • I have ten acres of land, some of which is pasture, some forest, and then the normal yard.
  • Besides the house, there are four buildings on my property. One has space underneath it where I've seen cats passing through hide but you can't really see all of it even with a flashlight, the other is a garage with a busted door that doesn't close and has a million impossible-to-reach hiding spots, then there's the garden shed (I accidentally frightened one of them when I went in there to search), and then then another small building with no doors or windows.
I put a live trap in the garden shed, since I frightened one of them in there. She ran off into the woods, but since I know she's interested in that area, I figured it'd be a good start.

I also put one beneath the window they escaped from and one between the building with a nice hiding spot beneath it and the garage.
Using wet food mixed with dry food as bait. The closest KFC is an hour away, so I can't just go grab the tastiest bait ever.
Anything else I should be doing? I gave up searching and calling for them because I don't want to drive them further away. I'm hoping they come out of their hiding spots tonight and get trapped.

I'm afraid of hawks and stuff, and I'd like to trap them quickly.
 

Norachan

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They're probably going to stay close to your house, as they know the area and have had some experience of being outside before. Is it possible for you to leave a door open with some treats or food just inside? They're probably looking for a way back in.

Can you handle them at all, or will you have to trap them to get them inside?

I care for a colony of former feral cats that live in my house and in an enclosure. Every now and then a tree will come down, damage the enclosure fence and one of them will take off. They're usually back pretty soon though. Cats don't like to be out of their territory for too long.
 
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DungeonMaster

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They're probably going to stay close to your house, as they know the area and have had some experience of being outside before. Is it possible for you to leave a door open with some treats or food just inside? They're probably looking for a way back in.

Can you handle them at all, or will you have to trap them to get them inside?

I care for a colony of former feral cats that live in my house and in an enclosure. Every now and then a tree will come down, damage the enclosure fence and one of them will take off. They're usually back pretty soon though. Cats don't like to be out of their territory for too long.
I just got the feral one back inside. The one who came back was actually her kitten (now adult) and she responded to its mews. I can't pick her up, only sit on the floor and gently stroke her, but she rubs against me and purrs and plays games. She just hates being up anywhere and doesn't even go on furniture.

Now, the stray who's still out there is extremely friendly. I picked her up from beneath my storage shed when she was pretty little (she was trying to eat birdseed). She was bloated with worms that she was constantly vomiting up. I have no idea if she took off from someone else (no one ever claimed her) or what, but she acted like she'd been handled before. I'm pretty sure she's my mom's reason for living. The two bonded extremely well, and since I work from home I can take care of them both! She's extremely distraught without her, needless to say, but aside from glimpsing her about an hour after she got out the window, I haven't seen her.

There are so many places she could be, but I doubt she'd go as far as one of the neighbors when we have so many buildings and other hiding places on our property. It's disheartening that she's disappeared like this.
 
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DungeonMaster

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I forgot to add that I can't just leave the window open because the cats inside will just get out, and the dogs will probably get out, too.
 

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I just got the feral one back inside. The one who came back was actually her kitten (now adult) and she responded to its mews. I can't pick her up, only sit on the floor and gently stroke her, but she rubs against me and purrs and plays games. She just hates being up anywhere and doesn't even go on furniture.

Now, the stray who's still out there is extremely friendly. I picked her up from beneath my storage shed when she was pretty little (she was trying to eat birdseed). She was bloated with worms that she was constantly vomiting up. I have no idea if she took off from someone else (no one ever claimed her) or what, but she acted like she'd been handled before. I'm pretty sure she's my mom's reason for living. The two bonded extremely well, and since I work from home I can take care of them both! She's extremely distraught without her, needless to say, but aside from glimpsing her about an hour after she got out the window, I haven't seen her.

There are so many places she could be, but I doubt she'd go as far as one of the neighbors when we have so many buildings and other hiding places on our property. It's disheartening that she's disappeared like this.
I forgot to add that I can't just leave the window open because the cats inside will just get out, and the dogs will probably get out, too.
Can you not put everyone in other rooms so they are safely tucked away from the open window or an open door?

How about something very smelly for bait? Sardines?Mackerel,Tuna or anchovy?

Any favorite blanket with kitty's scent on it (and your Moms) you can drape over the trap ?

Can you set up any cameras in those places you suspect have many hiding places?
 
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DungeonMaster

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Update: The ex-feral is back inside! She came to the window and I opened it for her.

I used a pair of night vision goggles and spotted the other in a tree beside the garage. She jumped down as soon as she saw me and disappeared behind the garage. I moved one of my traps to that location (I also have one in the garage) but she hasn’t gone in yet. I set some food out near the trap to get her near it but it hasn’t been touched yet.

I hope she didn’t leave that area because she saw me watching her.

Okay, now that the update is over, I’ll answer your question.

I put some tuna into the traps yesterday evening, so the scent should be appetizing and stronger than wet food. The problem with locking the other animals away is two-fold:

1. I can’t get the ex-feral because she freaks out if picked up. The vet trip to get her spayed was a nightmare.

2. The dogs are around 16-17 years old now and get stressed when we have to crate them or put them in a room. They don’t need the extra distress at their ages, especially since they could be there a while as we wait.

I wish I had trail cameras or even security cameras to put out but I don’t. I’m relying on my eyes and a pair of goggles to see if I can catch a glimpse of her.
 
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DungeonMaster

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Yep, the friendly stray is still out there.

Mom is very upset. Hoping she goes back to where I spotted her last night.
 
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If you are close enough to a market, any greasy fried chicken will substitute for KFC. Even the frozen kind that you have to bake first might work.
I can't get there until next week, unfortunately. I may have mackerel, though, and I could probably fry some myself if chicken is really the best.

Prating she does
Me too. I wish I knew what was going through her head so I could predict her next move.
 
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DungeonMaster

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Quick update. I swapped out the tuna for some herring and sardines, which are much stronger smelling, at least to my nose. I also sprinkled some catnip around the traps and the house to, hopefully, entice her. I read somewhere that cats can smell up to 4 miles away under proper conditions, but somewhere else said that may be a myth and they can only smell up to 126-154 feet away (which, on my property, isn't very far). I'm going to hope for the 1-4 miles estimate and hope I can lure her in and not a bunch of strays.

Mom skipped church (which she never does) and went for a very long walk today. I hope I can get her tonight. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
 

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So two in and only one more outside? That's a great update.

Is it comfortable enough for your mother to sit outside? How about you set up a deckchair with a blanket, parasol, nice drink and a good book for her in the area you see the friendly stray cat? Maybe she'll come out for your mum.

Ask her to just sit outside and talk softly so the cat knows it's her. She must be missing your mum after not seeing her all day.
 

Kwik

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Quick update. I swapped out the tuna for some herring and sardines, which are much stronger smelling, at least to my nose. I also sprinkled some catnip around the traps and the house to, hopefully, entice her. I read somewhere that cats can smell up to 4 miles away under proper conditions, but somewhere else said that may be a myth and they can only smell up to 126-154 feet away (which, on my property, isn't very far). I'm going to hope for the 1-4 miles estimate and hope I can lure her in and not a bunch of strays.

Mom skipped church (which she never does) and went for a very long walk today. I hope I can get her tonight. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Oh you certainly have my prayers and my friends as well- I was thinking about your Mom today in church,isn't that funny you mentioned she never misses church....my heart aches for her,we will have Faith and expect kitties safe return in Jesus Name( tell your Mom from me)

Yeah,cats can smell food about as far as a football field is wide.... catnip further

The thing about 4 miles away is probably regarding their ability to find their way home by " scent".....pheromone spray might help to because males can smell a female a mile away( literally )....I did mention blanket or bedding with kitties and Moms scent near the trap,right?
 
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DungeonMaster

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So two in and only one more outside? That's a great update.

Is it comfortable enough for your mother to sit outside? How about you set up a deckchair with a blanket, parasol, nice drink and a good book for her in the area you see the friendly stray cat? Maybe she'll come out for your mum.

Ask her to just sit outside and talk softly so the cat knows it's her. She must be missing your mum after not seeing her all day.
Mom sat out for a little today but she didn’t come.

The trap outside the window was sprung tonight but she managed to get out of it (the lock probably didn’t fully catch), so now I hope she isn’t terrified of the traps.

At least she was around the house again. I set a new trap, so we’ll see what happens.
 
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DungeonMaster

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Oh you certainly have my prayers and my friends as well- I was thinking about your Mom today in church,isn't that funny you mentioned she never misses church....my heart aches for her,we will have Faith and expect kitties safe return in Jesus Name( tell your Mom from me)

Yeah,cats can smell food about as far as a football field is wide.... catnip further

The thing about 4 miles away is probably regarding their ability to find their way home by " scent".....pheromone spray might help to because males can smell a female a mile away( literally )....I did mention blanket or bedding with kitties and Moms scent near the trap,right?
Thanks for the prayers. I gave a little update above and just replaced the faulty trap with a different one. This one has the ultra smelly food, one of her beds under it, catnip sprinkled over it, and a shirt next to it.

I hope she isn’t too traumatized by the incident she had with the last trap.
 

Kwik

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Thanks for the prayers. I gave a little update above and just replaced the faulty trap with a different one. This one has the ultra smelly food, one of her beds under it, catnip sprinkled over it, and a shirt next to it.

I hope she isn’t too traumatized by the incident she had with the last trap.
Oh noooo- do you have any idea what time she came around? Thst can really spook a cat- what about a den,a box or a cubby- does she have any of those kind of things she loves to hang out in?Maybe if she sees and smells one of her favorite things she might stick around more-I know I'd be camping out outside waiting ,is your Mom elderly or able to do something like that?

I dont know what to tell you,my cats come if I call them but they walk on leashes ,if my ex feral boy ever got out I don't know what would happen if he panicked but I know I'd be sick to my stomach- my heart really goes out to you
 

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Do be careful with leaving smelly food out at night. You don’t want to attract other animals. I strongly doubt she will go into a trap if she got out of one. If it was her in it that got out. If you know what time you saw her, cats are creatures of habit. She might be there again at the same time.
 
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Do be careful with leaving smelly food out at night. You don’t want to attract other animals. I strongly doubt she will go into a trap if she got out of one. If it was her in it that got out. If you know what time you saw her, cats are creatures of habit. She might be there again at the same time.
Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure. Sometime between 9:00 and 12:00. I’m just sick.
 
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DungeonMaster

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Oh noooo- do you have any idea what time she came around? Thst can really spook a cat- what about a den,a box or a cubby- does she have any of those kind of things she loves to hang out in?Maybe if she sees and smells one of her favorite things she might stick around more-I know I'd be camping out outside waiting ,is your Mom elderly or able to do something like that?

I dont know what to tell you,my cats come if I call them but they walk on leashes ,if my ex feral boy ever got out I don't know what would happen if he panicked but I know I'd be sick to my stomach- my heart really goes out to you
We’ve tried sitting out but she won’t emerge if anyone is around. Thinking of trying to find something window height I can use as a platform so she can actually sit in front of the window and eat. Maybe then she’ll stick around long enough for us to open the window and let her in.
 
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