Last night we could not find our pet cat before we went to bed. She likes to go outside during the day, but from our observations, she typically stays near the house.
At about 11 p.m., we found her in the neighbor's yard, just over our fence, caught in a trap. The trap had a small bowl of catfood in it, and apparently that was her goal. Is it legal to trap cats? It was already 34 degrees, and she surely would have frozen to death if she had been there all night.
— Not Happy With The Neighbors
Not Happy With The Neighbors? You could be anyone. But seriously, we here at Since You Asked are glad your cat's OK.
There is not a countywide ordinance that prohibits trapping cats. However, if you trap a cat, you are responsible for its welfare. Andrea Carlson of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said an investigation into the death of a trapped cat would be handled on a case-by-case basis, though, specific to the situation.
"If there were issues between these two neighbors and one neighbor maliciously put out a trap to trap a cat, then there might be an issue there," Carlson said. She said an animal cruelty charge could be a possibility, but that it's difficult to say for sure without a thorough investigation. "Without looking at the investigation as a whole, it's really hard to say, yup, animal cruelty."
There are alternatives for keeping cats out of your yard. You might want to discuss them with these neighbors of yours. Homeowners can scatter orange and lemon peels or use a citrus-scented spray, as scats dislike citrus smells. Coffee grounds and pipe tobacco also can work. Battery-operated cat repellents with motion detectors also are available at pet stores or online. Finally, cover exposed ground with rocks or plant stakes to discourage felines from digging.
Those who opt to still trap cats should do it in a humane way. Traps should not be left unattended. Hang out nearby, but out of sight. Check for identification.
What's most important for trappers is to communicate intentions to those around them, especially cat owners such as yourself.
"If people were going to be trapping animals, before you do so, notify your neighbors," said Jackson County Environmental Public Health manager Jackson Baures.
Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.