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Felinexpress.com home > Strays and Ferals > Trapping a Feral Cat

Trapping a Feral Cat

Trapping cats can be time consuming, exhausting and frustrating, elating and rewarding, depending on the cat and the situation. In order to help the process move quickly along, withdraw food from the area 24 hours before trapping. Leave water out.

According to Lisa Doyle a volunteer for AzCats here are some items you might need when you begin trapping:

  • Traps
  • Can opener
  • Dark covering for each trap
  • Dish or lid to hold cat food
  • Flashlight
  • Tarp or plastic for under traps when transporting in vehicle
  • Newspaper
  • Also suggest you keep a thermos of coffee close and some snacks if you are doing a trap watching vigil.

Set the traps in the cats general feeding grounds. Set them near bushes or other covered areas out of sight of the general population. (A cat in a trap is an easy target). Cats also like to be near buildings and walls. These are good locations for traps.

Test your trap first. If you are trapping multiple cats, they can be very energetic trying to get out! Rods that hold open the trigger plate can get bent, chains can become twisted or jammed. Once you have the trap set in place, do a quick scan of the property to see if any cats are in the area. I you donít spot any, then using a small branch of a tree, joggle the trigger to see if the trap shuts. Re-set the trap.

Put the bait in the far back corner of the trap. Light-weight cats need to trip the foot plate in order for the door to shut. Keep that in mind when baiting. If your trap has double-doors be sure the rear door is secure before leaving.

You can use a single sheet of newspaper to line the front of the trap. You can also use kitty litter on top of that to make the footing more paw friendly. Loose leaves and dirt are good to use as well. Place a small amount of bait in front of the trap so the kitty has a taste of whatís to come. You can use; tuna, sardines, mackerel, smelly cat food (Figaro tuna is a favorite for this rescuer) you can even use dry dog food (smells stronger than dry cat food).

When a cat is caught:

Cover the trap quickly with a dark-colored cloth. Pick the trap up carefully (use gloves) The cat will be thrashing around so be prepared. Keep hold of the trap and donít drop it. Older traps when dropped will sometimes fling open. If this happens you will never see the cat in a trap again for a long time.

Check to see if the left ear tip is removed. If the cat is part of a managed colony, his ear should show a straight cut where the tip used to be. If the ear tip is ragged, or just a small piece missing, this is the result of a fight. If you see the straight cut, let the cat go unless you intend to socialize and re-home him.

Once the other cats see their friends getting caught in the trap, the loose cats will scatter. The trapped cats leave behind a stress pheromone that warns others to stay away. Wash each trap before re-using with hot soapy water, then spray the trap down with Feliway Sprayô

Donít open the trap until the cat has been to the vet. Many a scared stray has been lost because the rescuer feels sorry for him being in such a confined space. Call your vet prior to setting out the traps and see if you can have an open appointment to bring in the trapped cats. Donít feed a trapped cat if your vet visit is that day or the next one.

Make sure that the trapped kitty is safely out of harmís way. You donít want the cat to become exposed to extreme temperatures or fall prey to another predator. Inside a cage, they are susceptible to being harmed, so play it safe. Beware of the two-footed predator as well!

Before transporting, place a tarp down in your car and put the traps on top of the tarp. Make sure each trap is still covered. Covering helps keep the cat calm. Place the traps securely in your car so they donít tip or slide forward. Bring a can of air freshener with you, you might need it. Cats who are stressed and confined often lose control of their bodily functions.

At the vetís ask him to do a health exam, fecal, bloodwork (for infectious diseases) and flea treatment. Have him scan for a micro-chip and check for ringworm. After the neuter, be sure and keep the cat confined for at least 24 hours. Store the trap in a comfortable place so the cat doesnít get either to hot or to cold. Follow the at-home in care instructions from your vet. If complications occur, contact your vet.

Release the cat in a safe location. Have  ample food and water available before opening the trap. Release in covered surroundings. The first thing the cat will do is run and hide.

Wash your traps in hot water and bleach. Wash all coverings and hose down and scrub the tarps. Let the traps and tarps air dry, Launder the towels use bleach and Dreft baby detergent. Line dry.

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