Cat Smells for Canines
Canine trappers often ask me for something new or different in the way of lures or smells. Some are having trouble with a particular animal; others just want a little more variety in their arsenal of attractants. I'm no different. I use variations of bait, lure, and urine all year.

I've always been in favor of more than one smell at a canine set. I've found that using two or even all three of the above attractants produces a higher percentage of catches than just one. All work, and all have their place. But, looking at it from a little different point of view, such as wanting a different but effective smell, I've come to the conclusion that bobcat smells are probably as good as it gets.

By 'bobcat smells' I don't mean a typical cat lure per se, and certainly not the popular lures that have a minty odor, or are heavy on castor, though they do work to a point.

I'm talking about cat glands, urine, droppings, and bobcat meat-based baits. All have their application, and trust me, all are attractive to canines, even in areas that don't have cats. I regularly use all of them at coyote sets, and if I had red fox like I did in eastern Montana years ago, I'd still be using those smells for them too.

Over the years I've found a lot of places that had more than one species working them. Coyotes and cats might be hunting the same type of cover and terrain, using both to their advantage. Food sources will dictate how often they return, and if they will hang around the area very long.

In some cases there will be natural 'toilets', or a place where there are several droppings and urine-soaked spots. I see lots of overlap of coyote and cat visits at some of these places. There is no doubt in my mind that either species will investigate the smells of their competition, and possibly leave their own mark.

I'm sure there are some territorial concerns at work, but I honestly think the curiosity factor is as important as anything. If you've ever taken your dog for a walk where other dogs have been before them, you know what I mean. Those smells of dropping and urine last a long time, and even a dog that has never truly hunted will stop and analyze what has taken place there. And, if you've ever watched a domestic cat use their regular spot to leave a dropping or two, you might also get to see how fast it is investigated by any dog that comes along. Their wild cousins are no different, and no doubt are actually more tuned in to these types of smells. You can take advantage of this when canine trapping.

Gland lures are made from the various glands of an animal. Anal glands, bladders, the small hock glands, and a variety of other things are used as per the particular formula. Most gland lures also have some urine in them, so essentially you are using concentrated cat smell, boosted with urine. A definite win-win in my opinion.

I often use cat gland on my set backing, in place of a canine gland lure, or on my outside blocking. That heavy, pungent cat odor makes just about any set for canines (or cats) that much more attractive. Good fresh gland lure has nothing in it to cause alarm or fear in any animal, and if there is anything out there that will make an old coyote mad, and willing to work a set with aggression, it's cat gland.

Let's face it, when making a set like a dirthole, we're trying to imitate where another animal has buried something. It's common practice to place the bait down the hole, or if a paste bait, smeared around inside the hole. A small smear of cat gland on the lip of the hole will add to the appeal, because a canine will assume that the cat has made an attempt to bury food there. Their instincts to investigate where their competition has been will often be all it takes to make them make that last step on the trap pan.

I often think that the common dirthole set should actually be called a 'cache' set, because that's really what it imitates. It's hard to tell how many times an animal actually comes back to these spots to reclaim what they've left there, but I'm sure it happens.

Unless you totally blend in a set, there is usually some eye appeal and visual attraction involved. Flat sets that use bleached bones are a good example, as is the standard dirthole. Both can get an animal's attention even if they can't smell the set. You will see that happen when an animal works the location with the wind wrong. It takes something to get them close enough to the set to investigate, and then the smell factor comes into play.
If you've seen bobcat toilets, or where they've killed and eaten something, you know they're not tidy. They tend to rake up grass and loose dirt, and make their 'mark' on things. This concentrated smell and eye appeal is like a magnet to canines.

So, when you make a canine set, and already have the ground torn up by digging the trap bed and leaving a little loose dirt around, you can turn that into a mock bobcat 'cache'. I use the digging tang on my hammer to make two or three quick swipes from different directions an arm's length away, and get some more ground cover torn up. Loose grass that comes up can be piled as a guide or blocking on the outside of the set, on the opposite side of the trap from the attractor, forming a walk-through effect. I don't pile it too high, maybe 3-4 inches.
You're trying to imitate where a cat buried something, so you still place the bait down the hole, or put lure on the bone. The grass or debris you created is a perfect spot to put cat gland lure, or, my second favorite, bobcat urine.

I'm a fan of using good urine at a set, although I don't always use it at every set at a specific location. I find myself using it more in a freshen-up type application as the season goes on. I've used coyote, red fox, and bobcat urines with pretty much equal results, so I can't honestly say that you have to use bobcat urine to catch canines. Personally, I use a lot of fresh coyote gland for canine trapping, so having a bottle of cat urine in my bag only adds to the variables that I can offer them.

Urine can be used in a variety of ways, much like gland lure. I use it on my set's backing, outside blocking, or right in the center of scratch marks I've created. Good cat urine has a pungent smell, and actually fairly sweet smelling at times.

Bobcat urine purchased from a reliable source will work just fine, even though there seems to be rumor in the industry that there are no large bobcat urine collection facilities operating. I know better because I've visited one such facility many times, and marveled at how clean and well run it is.
If you cut the glands from your bobcats, you can collect the urine right from their bladders. I use a very small funnel that fits right in a squirt bottle's neck. I place the whole bladder in the funnel, and then pierce it with my knife tip. After the urine is drained, I place the empty bladder in my gland jar to later be ground and used in gland lure.

You might get 3 or 4 ounces, or more, of fresh urine from a large cat. I don't keep this separate from any cat urine already in the bottle, because I think it just adds to the appeal to have the smells from multiple animals of the same species in one application.

Bobcat droppings also offer a very high level of appeal to canines. I use them as a visual attractor, as well as utilizing their smell. To some extent, I might use them as a guide, or blocking, at the set. If I do, I make sure that I have a slight indentation in the ground for them to lie in. I might place them in a wad of grass that I use for blocking, or just on the outside of any good set. I like to freshen them up with urine if they're dried out, and they soak it up fairly fast.

If you cut glands, you can usually get 2-3 good black droppings right out of the cat's intestines, and these are super valuable. I've placed them in a zip-lock type bag to save them until I use them, but the bags can be hard to open with gloves on, so I now put them in a plastic jar with a good lid. That jar goes right in an inside pocket of my canvas trapping bag.

I don't place any lure on any dropping I use, since so many of them tend to disappear at the set. I don't want the lure to end up several feet away from where I intended it to be. Which brings up another thing. A good fresh dropping can be smeared right on a tuft of grass or rock, and that smell and black mark will last a long time. If the droppings you place at a set don't last long, try simply mashing one into place.

So much good can be said about the value of cat meat for canine bait. If you've ever ground and aged cat meat, you know that it tends to get to a nice pink stage over time. One of my friends from Montana, the late Fuller Laugeman, described the bait he sold as 'high' bobcat meat. I liked that description when I read it in an ad over 30 years ago, and I often think of it when I open the lid of a barrel of 2-year aged bobcat meat.

Aged bobcat meat has been made into a variety of commercial baits over the years. All work, or at least they should. I personally rank it as my #1 choice for a meat bait base. Its texture, and overall variety of applications and uses, makes it easy to like.

I use cat meat-based bait in hole-type sets, and on bleached bones. I also use it under the edge of a dried cow chip, or other object that I feel will make a natural scent holder. Canines, as well as bobcats, will work it as well as anything I've found, and I use it throughout the year at all types of sets.

I've used bobcat gland lure, urine, and droppings right along with cat meat paste bait for years. It's another approach to catching canines that really has no down side, and rarely gets overused or burned out. If you're looking for a change, or want to add a little variety to your operation, give bobcat products a try.