Gear: Net

Nets can be used both to capture a cat and to secure it after it has been captured by other means. While I am not very capable using a net to capture a cat in general, there are certain circumstances in which a net is especially suited for the task, and even I am capable enough to deploy it successfully. Even though I rarely use it, I still regard it as an essential tool.

Nets with a long handle are useful for capturing and securing a distant cat, but, on some occasions, the supplied handle may not be quite long enough. At the time I bought my first long-handle net, the handle happened to be the same diameter as the fiberglass poles that are commonly available in various lengths and used by tree climbers and the tree service industry. As a result, I was able to attach a pole ferrule to the end of the net handle, and that allows me to attach it to fiberglass poles that extend my reach far beyond what I can manage. I can't be sure what size handles are being sold today and in the future, but if they are the same size, you can buy a ferrule and poles from most tree climbing gear suppliers should you find a need to extend your reach. In my case, I first had to cut off a few inches of the foam padding at the end of the handle in order to fit the ferrule (pictured below).

The best net available today for cat rescuers is the Freeman Hammock net. It's an excellent, highly-recommended net that is strong enough and large enough to easily fit a large cat, and it has a cord that can be cinched around the upper part of the net to prevent the cat from escaping. Currently, it is available with various handle lengths from Animal Care Equipment and Services (ACES) and Tomahawk Live Trap. You can also get a replacement net to replace a damaged one or to put on your own handle and hoop.

I am not fond of moving around a tree with a long handle net attached to my harness, but I do want a net with me to secure the cat after capturing it with a catch-pole. For this reason, I bought a Freeman Hammock replacement net and put it on a fishing landing net hoop which I found at a local sporting goods store. The landing net has approximately the same circumference hoop, and it can be easily disassembled and re-assembled. I simply removed the supplied net and replaced it with the Freeman net (short net on the left in the first picture above). The short handle makes the net much easier to manage when I need to transfer a cat from the catch-pole to a net.

As excellent as the Freeman Hammock net is, it is still a net, and it is very easy for a cat to grab the mesh with his claws when you are trying to push him down to the bottom of the net. For this reason, I decided to make a "net" out of rip-stop nylon fabric. It is still possible for the cat to grab it with his claws, but it is a huge improvement over a mesh net, and it is much easier to get a cat down to the bottom of the net. I wanted it to have a short handle, so I bought a fishing landing net, removed the net, and replaced it with a bag which I made to fit. I put a large zipper in the bottom to make it easier to transfer a cat to another container, but that zipper is not essential. Even with the zipper, it's a very easy bag to make. This net is the short handle net on the right in the first picture above, and I describe how I use it on the Rescue Methods Catch-Pole page.

At the time I made the bag, black and white were the only color choices I had, and I chose white just because I wanted to keep the cat as cool as possible in my hot climate. Of course, white gets dirty and stained very quickly in use, and the next time I make one, I will make it with a gray fabric. I made and sewed some loops around the bag near the top to hold the cinch cord, and I also used a hot tool to burn some small air holes in the fabric near the bottom.

I was so pleased with the bag that I decided to make another one to replace the net on the long handle (long middle net in first picture above). It is especially on a long handle that one can appreciate how light the rip-stop nylon fabric is compared to the Freeman Hammock net. The bag is much easier to hold at long distances without tiring my muscles. The only advantage the net has over the bag is that you can still see the cat behind the netting while the fabric can often block your view.

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