Feral Cat Foundation - Tax ID 68-0411209 - P.O. Box 1173, Alamo, CA 94507 Feral Cat Foundation - Serving Alameda & Contra Costa Counties
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Updated 10NOV21
About Feral Cats


Introduction to Trapping Cats FCF's Trapping Assistance Program Preparing to Trap Trapping Pregnant Cats or Mothers with Young Kittens

Feeding Prior to Trapping

If possible, get the cat used to being fed at the same place and time of day. You might try leaving the trap unset and covered with a large towel during routine feeding so that the animal will get used to seeing and smelling it in the area. Take the trap home with you after each feeding.

Getting the Cat Used to Eating Inside the Unset Trap – Takes 3 or More Days

One method of making the cat feel comfortable around the trap is to put some food on a piece of waxed paper or shallow lid right by the entry to the unset trap.

Depending on the type of trap, you can either leave it unset and open by removing the sliding back door or, if it is a one-door trap, wire open the entry. (Use twist ties or other easy, cheap method to do the latter.)

On each succeeding night's feeding put the food a little farther into the trap until the cat is comfortable eating at the very back. (On the actual trapping night, the cat will have to go far enough into the set trap to trip the metal plate which will spring the door shut.)

Placing a folded piece of newspaper just far enough into the trap to cover the trip plate will encourage the cat to enter. It will prefer to walk on newspaper rather than on the wire of the trap. The newspaper will help disguise the slightly elevated trip plate on the evening the trap is actually set.

No Feeding the Evening Before the Trapping Day

Do not feed the cat on the day or evening before the day you plan to trap. It is more likely to enter the trap quickly if it is hungry. For a particularly wary cat, you might not want to feed it for two days/evenings prior to trapping. (If others are also feeding cats in the area, ask them not to leave out any food the day or two before you trap.)

Feeding on the Day you Want to Trap

If trapping has to be expedited, and you don't have time to wait for 2-3 nights, then leaving a short trail of little bits of food just outside and leading into the back of the trap might encourage the cat to go far enough inside to trip the mechanism the first time you try. Likewise, a little strong-smelling food (such as mackerel or chicken) placed on a piece of waxed paper or small shallow lid at the back of the trap might get the cat trapped on the very first attempt. Cats should not eat 12 hours prior to surgery, so only a small amount of food should be set in the trap.

Alternatively, you can soak a small piece of newspaper in mackerel juice, spoon a little food onto this paper, and put paper on the ground where you plan to place the trap. Put the back end of the trap on top of this paper so food squishes through the wire.

Preparing/Setting the Trap

  • You will have been shown how to and will have practiced setting the trap several times before trapping day.
  • You will have with you a dark piece of material (blanket, old curtain, beach/bath towel) large enough to cover the trap – top, back end and both sides.
  • You will have a folded piece of newspaper just long enough to fit over the trip plate. (On windy evenings the paper will likely just be blown around and will scare the cat, so you might not want to try the paper cover up if there's a wind blowing.)
  • If possible, you will place the trap on a level surface close to where you normally feed the cat.
  • You will follow the suggestions for placing food in the trap as outlined in these guidelines.

Common Sense Basics of Trapping

  • Plan to trap the cat the evening before your veterinary appointment so that the animal has to be in the trap only overnight.
  • Bring a flashlight with you if you are trapping in a poorly lit area.
  • Don't trap in the heat of day.
  • Set the trap at the cat's normal feeding time.
  • Stay in the vicinity, keep watch and listen for the sound of the trap snapping shut.
  • Check the trap at least every hour to see if it has been sprung.
  • If you are trying to keep a veterinary appointment and have to trap on a rainy evening, put an old plastic shower curtain or waterproof material under the towel or other cover that the cat is used to seeing over the trap. (You do not want the cat to get soaked in the trap if you are checking on it only every 30-60 minutes.)
  • Traps must not be left unattended and certainly not left out overnight.
  • Cats are vulnerable in traps – they can be attacked by raccoons or other animals, be released or harmed by someone, or suffer from exposure to the elements.

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