- Get the cats used to being fed at the same place
and time of day, and if possible, at night. Dusk is usually the best
time to set traps.
- Then start by leaving an unset trap covered with
a large towel during routine feeding so that the cats will get used to
seeing and smelling it in the area.
- On the day before you are going to trap, do not
feed the cats so that they will be hungry. Use smelly food to bait the
trap like tuna fish or canned mackerel. Be certain to notify others who
may feed the cats not to leave out food either.
- Do not trap in the rain or the heat of the day
without adequate protection for the trap. Use common sense.
- Plan to trap so you do not have to keep the cats
too long before surgery. Trapping the night before is the best approach.
- Prepare the area where you will be holding the
cats before and after the clinic. A garage or other sheltered, warm,
protected area is best. Lay down newspapers to catch the inevitable
stool, urine and food residue. Keep the trap covered with a towel.
- Cats should not eat 12 hours prior to surgery.
Water can be available up to the time of surgery and is necessary if the
cat is held in the trap for more than eight hours after capture.
Setting the Trap
- Fold a piece of newspaper to line the bottom of
the trap just covering the trip plate. Be sure the paper clears the bar
on which the trap door closes and that the paper does not extend beyond
the trip plate. Excessive paper can interfere with the trap mechanism
and prevent the trap from closing properly.
- Place the food on a small scrap of newspaper and
then place the trap over the food so the food is far in the back of the
trap. This method assures that the cat has to make an effort to get the
food out and will be more likely to trip the trap mechanism. Be certain
the cat does not have access to the food from outside of the trap.
- After baiting the trap, open the trap door by
pushing the top of the door in and pulling the bottom of the door
upward. Set the trap according to directions for each individual trap.
When the cat steps on the plate, it will cause the hook to release the
door and close the trap.
- After setting the trap, cover the top, sides and
back with a large towel. This cover will help to camouflage the trap and
serve to calm the cat after it is caught.
Waiting for Success
- You should check the trap as often as every 15-30
minutes if possible. The trapped animal is vulnerable and could get
injured inside the trap. Passersby’s may release the cat or steal the
trap! Never trap and leave a cat out overnight, without its
companions to keep it warm, it may freeze to death. If possible,
chain the trap to a tree/bush or stake the trap to the ground to protect
it from being stolen.
- Check the traps quietly from an area where you
can still see the traps without disturbing the cats. As soon as the
intended cat is trapped, completely cover the trap and remove the trap
from the area. When carrying the trap use the handle and wear heavy
- When you get the captured cat to a quiet area
away from other traps lift the cover and check for signs that you have
the correct animal and not a pet or previously neutered feral (ear
- Of course, there is always the chance that you
will catch some other wild animal attracted to the food or an unintended
cat. Simply release the animal as described in the releasing
Releasing the Cats
- If the cat does not seem to be recovering well
from the surgery, consider having it checked by a veterinarian before
- When cats are ready for release, return to the
area in which they were captured and release them there. Do not relocate
the animal! It will be disoriented and could die or be driven away by
other cats in the area.
- Be sure that the cat will not run into danger
(like a busy street) when you release him/her.
- When ready, simply hold the trap with the door
facing away from you and open the door. The cat will probably
bolt immediately out of the trap. NEVER PUT YOUR HAND IN THE TRAP.
If the animal still will not leave, prop the door open with a stick
and leave it for a while. A trapped skunk or possum, which is nocturnal,
may decide to sleep in the trap all day and not leave the trap until
- After releasing the cat hose off the traps and
disinfect them with bleach (1 part bleach to 30 parts water). Return all
borrowed traps promptly so that they may be used for the next clinic.
Never store traps in the “set” position (door open) as animals may
wander into even unbaited traps.
- If you are trapping a lactating female, you may
want to wait until you have located the kittens and know that they are
old enough to wean (4-6 weeks). Check the area for kittens and remember
that this female must be released 10-12 hours after surgery so she can
care for and nurse her kittens.
- If you catch kittens younger than weaning age
then you will need to feed them an appropriate kitten milk replacer
until weaning age.
- Females with kittens will be attracted by the
sounds of their kittens if the previously captured kittens are placed in
a covered carrier just behind the trap. Similarly, kittens will be
easier to trap if the previously captured mother is in a carrier behind
the trap. Never place the “bait” animal in the trap or
anywhere where it may be harmed by the trapped animal.
General Trapping Precautions
- If you need to open the trap to slip water in or for any other
reason take EXTREME CARE as the cat may try to lunge and could bite.
Wear heavy gloves and open the trap only enough to slip the dish in.
Never try to grab a feral cat is he/she is escaping. Don’t stick fingers
in the trap or allow children or pets near the trap. These are wild
animals and will scratch and bite.
Any bite or scratch should be taken
seriously- seek medical attention immediately. If possible, DO NOT RELEASE
the cat. It must be quarantined. Contact the Feral Cat Solutions program
of the Humane Society of the Palouse for quarantine instructions.